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Clinton: US Pledges $900 Million to Rebuild Gaza, Hamas Will Not Touch Donations


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States' pledge of $300 million in humanitarian aid for Gaza is intended to help achieve a Palestinian state that is "peaceful" and "responsible."

In remarks Monday in Egypt at the international donors' conference on reconstructing the Gaza Strip Clinton said U.S. monetary support for Gaza cannot be separated from achieving a "comprehensive peace" in the region.

Clinton said an additional $600 million of U.S. aid will go to the Palestinian Authority to cover budget shortfalls, institutional reforms and economic development. The U.S. says none of the money will benefit Hamas militants, who do not recognize Israel's right to exist.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told international donors that financial aid without an end to the conflict with Israel would be "insufficient."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon warned that rebuilding the coastal enclave will be a daunting task as long as border crossings between Israel and Gaza remain closed, calling the situation "intolerable."

Representatives from at least 75 donor nations are meeting in Sharm el-Sheik with a goal of raising money to rebuild Gaza after Israel's military offensive.

The Palestinian Authority says it needs to raise $2.8 billion to reconstruct Gaza.

The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council said Sunday they would contribute $1.65 billion.

This trip is Clinton's first to the Middle East as U.S. secretary of state. After the conference, Clinton is scheduled to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel and Hamas declared separate cease-fires in January, but rocket fire into Israel from Gaza has continued and Israel has launched targeted attacks on militants and smuggling tunnels in Gaza.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.



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