Nations attending donor talks aimed the rebuilding of Gaza in Cairo on Sunday pledged a collective sum of USD 5.4 billion exceeding the target of USD four billion originally projected ahead of the Norwegian-Egyptian sponsored talks.
The announcement was made by Norway's Foreign Minister Borge Brende at a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukri and the Palestinian Deputy Premier Mohammad Mustafa aired on Egyptian state TV following the one-day conference.
Brende said that half of this sum, pledged by around 90 nations and organisations, would target reconstruction efforts in Gaza, adding that the remaining amount would target the everyday needs of Palestinian people.
Donor nations have vowed to fulfill these pledges as soon as possible in order to make a swift impact in the everyday lives of Palestinians, he said, underling that making these funds available as quick as possible is crucial.
He urged the need to lift the siege imposed on Gaza and to iron out any differences standing in the path of the two-state solution - points which the talks have also highlighted.
For his part, the Egyptian foreign minister noted the importance of the talks in relaunching a starting point for indirect negotiations mediated by Egypt between the Palestinians and Israelis - in order to reach the aim of two nations living side by side in peace.
He urged the Israeli side to take the necessary steps towards peace, while calling on the need for both sides to work towards the goal of the two-state solution and ending their dispute.
The large turnout at the talks reflects a bigger chance that these negotiations would be successful, he said, telling the Palestinians that this also sends to them a message that they are not alone.
The UN has been successful in organising the flow of this assistance to Gaza and encouraging donors to fulfill their pledges as Egypt continues to work with various sides to adopt more solid mechanisms for receiving the amounts, he said.
On the other hand, the Palestinian leadership has put in place adequate assessment measures of the funds which are subject to detailed evaluation.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian deputy prime minister thanked Egypt and Norway for their sponsorship of the talks, and donor nations for their pledges, adding that his government would begin working on its plans on the amount as soon as pledges are made available.
Asked about the deadline for the submission of these pledges, he said that there was no precise timeframe, while affirming that the Palestinian side would do all in its power to make the task of rebuilding a success through alleviating obstacles.
Among the donors, Kuwait's First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah announced his country's pledge of USD 200 million.
"Motivated by its humanitarian role and responsibility toward (Arab) brothers, the State of Kuwait announces pledging USD 200 million over the coming three years for the reconstruction of Gaza," he said in his speech at the talks.
The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) will follow up the fulfillment of the amount, in line with the plans of the Palestinian Fund for Development and Reconstruction, he added.
The recent Israeli brutal aggression on Gaza, which lasted around 50 days, left thousands of Palestinians killed or injured and caused huge damage to Gaza's infrastructure.
This necessitates mustering all forms of support for resuming the peace process to enable the Palestinian people to obtain their just and legitimate rights, he said.
The international community bears full humanitarian, ethical and legal responsibility, namely providing the guarantees likely to help realize just and comprehensive peace to achieve the aspired reconstruction of Gaza, far from the ghost of war, said the minister.
He also warned against slipping into the vicious circle of war and destruction, and stressed the necessity of full implementation of the UNSC resolution 1860 and the provisions of the Egyptian Initiative.
The State of Kuwait, in its capacity as the current head of the Arab Summit and the Ministerial Follow-up Committee of the Arab Peace Initiative, renews its call for the parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to speed up steps for organizing an international conference for protecting Palestinian civilians, he said.
He also appreciated the announcement by Sweden's government in joining the 134 countries that have so far recognized the State of Palestine.
Kuwait's First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister renewed his denunciation of the recent Israeli attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Additionally, Kuwait utterly rejects the continuation of settlement activities on occupied Palestinian territories, which fuels violence and undermines peace, he said.
Sheikh Sabah Khaled lauded the recent Palestinian reconciliation, and the first meeting of the unity development held in Gaza on Thursday. Sheikh Sabah Khaled noted that the conferees were agreed on the significance of finding a just and comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian issue.
Meanwhile, Qatar put forward USD one billion, as Foreign Minister Dr. Khaled Al-Attiyah stated that a "just peace" was crucial in order to ensure that these rebuilding efforts are not thwarted by repeated Israeli aggression following the recent 50-day assault.
Neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council state, the United Arab Emirates pledged USD 200 million in an announcement made by Minister of Development and International Cooperation Lubna Al-Qassemi, who referred to the need "for self-restraint and an end to the Israeli collective punishment." The pledges made by the Gulf states were followed by others, including the US, EU, Britain, Turkey and Greece, while other nations mentioned that former pledges they made would not be followed by more at this particular moment.
US Secretary of State John Kerry announced USD 414 million in assistance to the Palestinians, further mentioning a detailed breakdown of this sum.
He said this includes more than USD 212 million that will be delivered through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Of this sum, approximately 75 million dollars will support "critically needed relief and early recovery efforts" in Gaza; USD 100 million will support the Palestinian Authority's budgetary needs, including through financial support to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network; and USD 37 million will further strengthen the institutions of the Palestinian Authority, support economic growth, provide health and humanitarian assistance, and build the infrastructure and water resources of the West Bank, the announcement said.
The announcement also includes USD 118 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza announced by Kerry in July and September, which provided "critical humanitarian aid, including food, water, shelter and medical supplies to the population of Gaza," the department said.
This included a USD 74-million contribution to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees' (UNRWA) Gaza Flash Appeal, USD 36.4 million in USAID assistance, and USD 7.7 million to other international partners, the announcement said.
It further includes USD 84 million provided to UNRWA to address other emergency needs in the West Bank and Gaza, it said.
The European Union pledged USD 450 million in an announcement made by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton.
She went on to highlight the EU's position on the Middle East affair as "a political one", including the lifting of the siege on Gaza, the creation of a "land link" between the West Bank and Gaza and a maritime link between Gaza and Europe.
She also highlighted that "the EU's ultimate objective remains a two-state solution, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security and mutual recognition." Britain promised USD 32 million during the announcement made by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who also noted support of the two-state solution and the importance of having a Palestinian Authority that is "politically independent and financially sufficient." Turkey, on the other hand, announced a pledge of USD 200 million, while Greece pledged EUR one million (USD 1.26 million).