Mon, March 02, 2009
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Diplomats plan Gaza reconstruction

2009-03-02 06:03:56 GMT2009-03-02 14:03:56 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

INTRO: String of foreign diplomats arrive in Jerusalem to meet with Israeli leaders, ahead of Egypt's donors summit for Gaza reconstruction

MOREINFO: Palestinian and Israeli officials welcome a reconstruction plan for the Hamas-run Gaza Strip due to be announced during a donors conference in Egypt. Israel's 22-day offensive launched to stop militants rocket fire from the coastal enclave left wide-spread demolition and 1,300 Palestinians dead.

SCRIPT:

It's more than a month since Israel stopped hostilities in the Gaza strip - but the devastation left from their attacks has hardly been touched.

Gaza residents live amongst the rubble - many having lost their homes and forced to live in tents.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) RESIDENT OF GAZA, ILHAM AL ATTAR, SAYING:

"They just speak; look what happened to us, they don't care about us. Our sons are sick from the cold, look at the tents; last night all the tents were blown around by the storm. All our children are sick."

But now there is hope.

Foreign diplomats from around the world are to meet in Egypt to discuss donating towards a reconstruction package which the Palestinian Authority hope will be worth more than two billion U.S. dollars to repair the damage.

On a visit to the devastated area, the managing director of the World Bank said he would urge international financial support for rebuilding here.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WORLD BANK MANAGING DIRECTOR JOSE DABOUB, SAYING:

"For the world bank group, we want to re-affirm our desire to continue to walk next to the Palestinian people and to help the best way we can."

Special Envoy to the Middle East, Tony Blair also made a rare visit to the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip to meet U.N. officials in a U.N. run school.

He said it was important that the conference of donors was able to assist both the humanitarian position and the reconstruction of Gaza.

In Jerusalem a host of foreign diplomats stopped off on their way to the donor's conference.

The Norwegian Foreign minister met Israel's President Shimon Peres as Canada's foreign minister met Israel's Prime Minister designate, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The international summit on reconstruction in Gaza will take place in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt.

Penny Tweedie, Reuters.

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