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EU to donate 436 million euros to Gaza, Palestinians agree to unite

Article published on the 2009-02-27 Latest update 2009-02-27 14:29 TU

Hamas' Moussa Abu Marzouk (R) Fateh's Ahmed Qurei (C) and former minister Mustafa Barghouti in Cairo(Photo: Reuters)

Hamas' Moussa Abu Marzouk (R) Fateh's Ahmed Qurei (C) and former minister Mustafa Barghouti in Cairo
(Photo: Reuters)

The European Union is to donate 436 million euros to the reconstruction of Gaza, officials announced ahead of an international conference on Monday. Meeting in Cairo on Thursday, the main Palestinian parties agreed to work to form a national unity government.

"By offering a substantial aid package we confirm our generosity and commitment towards the Palestinians," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement.

She will officially pledge the funds on Monday at an international conference in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on reconstructing Gaza after Israel's January offensive.

Norway will co-chair the conference with Egypt, and its Foreign Minster Jonas Gahr Stoere visited Gaza and Israel on Friday. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana also visited the territory. But neither man met representatives of the Islamist movement Hamas which controls the area.

In Cairo on Thursday a dozen Palestinian political parties agreed to work to form a Palestinian unity government, to repair the deep split between President Mahumd Abbas's Fatah and Hamas.

Five committees are to be set up to examine the most serious problems:

  • The composion of the new government;
  • The dates of the next legislative and presidential elections, and their preparation;
  • Reforming the security services;
  • Reforming the Palestine Liberation Organisation, so that includes Hamas and Islamic Jihad;
  • Reconciliation of the hostile factions.

A sixth committee, which will include Egypt and the Arab League, will adjudicate on any points of contention.

The committees will begin their work on 10 March, aiming to form a government by the end of March. As a sign of good will, both Hamas and Fatah have promised to release political prisoners and to end their war of words in the media.

Israel, however, looks unlikely to form a national unity coalition. 

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday announced that he had failed to persuade outgoing Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to bring her Kadima party into the government.

Livini said that her party will be a "responsible opposition" but insisted that her party would only join a government committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"It is the only way Israel can remain Jewish and fight terror," she said.