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Report: Israel wants control of UN reconstruction effort

Ma'an news

Jan 20, 2009

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel is insisting that any money allocated to Gaza’s reconstruction not go to Hamas or its affiliates, and that the United Nations sends a detailed list of required equipment for approval before it enters the Strip.

According to diplomatic sources working at a Western office in Israel, the Israel is concerned that money may reach Hamas and is insisting on playing a large role and the surveillance of monetary inflow for reconstruction projects.

Israel is also studying the possibility of expanding a list of main materials considered for entering Gaza, demanding that the UN and other relief organizations provide information on anything headed toward Gaza, the same diplomatic sources said.

Israel is insisting that the UN and any other organization first obtain a permit before implementing pledges, as well as assurances that the UN will not participate directly with Hamas in Gaza’s reconstruction.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert assigned the country’s Minister of Social Welfare, Yetshak Hertzog, as the new Israeli coordinator for reconstruction.

Livni: No aid for Hamas

But according to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the UN should avoid actions that "strengthen or legitimize Hamas," which has shown that it "doesn’t care about its own people."

Livni spoke with Ki-Moon on Monday afternoon, prior to his scheduled visit in Israel on Tuesday, according to a statement sent to Ma’an. It was not immediately clear when the secretary-general intends to visit Gaza, although Monday reports suggested he would head there by Tuesday, as well.

The foreign minister said that Hamas has for years demonstrated that it "does not care about the Palestinian population and is willing to sacrifice the people’s basic interests to its terrorist agenda."

According to Livni it is Hamas, not Israel, which is to blame for the death and destruction there.

The foreign minister also insisted that international efforts in support of Gaza to not serve "the strengthening of legitimizing of the terror organization that, in all its actions, is endangering the very population that is it supposedly governing."

UN assesses damage

Voicing relief at Israel’s unilateral decision to halt its 22-day military offensive in Gaza and Hamas’ announcement of a temporary ceasefire, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Tuesday says he is determined to rebuild.

The UN leader asked other officials gathered at the Arab Economic, Social and Development Summit in Kuwait on Monday to "do all possible to ensure that this tragedy does not occur again" and "to come together to prevent further violence, help the people of Gaza in this hour of desperate need and restore stability."

A lasting halt to the fighting is essential, he said, urging Hamas to cease firing rockets and on Israel to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.

"A durable ceasefire needs an open functioning system for the crossings in and out of Gaza, one that will immediately allow full access for humanitarian goods and personnel," the secretary-general said.

"As well, the Palestinians themselves must face the challenge of reconciliation, and work to achieve a unified government under the leadership of [Acting] President [Mahmoud] Abbas within the framework of the legitimate Palestinian Authority," Ki-Moon added.

The secretary-general also issued a call to all Arab leaders for their support in this effort, adding that "we cannot rebuild Gaza without Palestinian unity."

On Monday, Secretary-General Ki-Moon dispatched a humanitarian needs assessment team to Gaza, where Israel’s massive assault has killed some 1,300 Palestinians and injured more than 5,000, causing widespread and rampant destruction to the infrastructure and lives of Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinian residents.

The secretary-general said he intends to launch a humanitarian appeal for the Strip soon, appealing to major donor countries for contributions. Saudi Arabia pledged USD $1 billion on Monday.

"A true end to violence, and lasting security for both Palestinians and Israelis, will only come through a just and comprehensive settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict," the secretary-general said at Monday’s gathering in Kuwait, underscoring the need to end the occupation that began in 1967.

"We need only political will and action," he told the Arab leaders in Kuwait City. "Peace has remained an elusive goal for far too long."

The secretary-general had arrived in Kuwait from Egypt, where he addressed the Conference on Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in Gaza in the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

His efforts to secure a diplomatic solution to the three-week crisis, which began on 27 December when Israel launched its onslaught in Gaza, also took the secretary-general to Damascus, Cairo, Amman, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Ankara and Beirut.

:: Article nr. 51034 sent on 20-jan-2008 17:35 ECT


Link: www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=35123

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