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PA upset at Qatar's Gaza-reconstruction project

February 17, 2014 at 11:18 pm

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority is acutely embarrassed by the State of Qatar’s decision to begin reconstruction projects in the Gaza Strip by the end of August, Palestinian sources said on Wednesday.

Qatar has decided to cooperate with the Palestinian government in Gaza on the reconstruction of the besieged territory. This decision has aroused in the PA a lot of anger, although it has decided against taking any reactive measures.

A couple of months after the Israelis invaded the Gaza Strip during 2008/2009, causing massive destruction, the Qatari government announced it would fund a huge reconstruction project in the Strip. The PA and the ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak asked Qatar to postpone the project until Palestinian reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah is achieved. Even so, the start date was included in an agreement signed between the head of the Hamas political bureau, Khalid Meshaal, and Fatah chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Doha several months ago.

The agreement was for both movements to form a technocrat government headed by Abbas to oversee the Palestinian elections as well as the Qatari and other reconstruction projects in Gaza. However, no progress was made on this. Hence, the government of Qatar considered the suffering of the people of Gaza and decided not to wait for an unlimited period, and went ahead and fixed a start date.

Gaza’s Housing and Construction Minister, Yousof Al-Mansi, said that the reconstruction will start at the end of August, after Eidul Fitr. “An official Qatari delegation is going to come to the Strip after Eid to put together the arrangements for the first phase of the project,” he said.

According to Mr. Al-Mansi, the Qatari decision was announced by one of the ruling princes when a delegation from Gaza visited the Gulf state. “We set out our plans and the Prince announced $250 million in support immediately,” the minister said. “After that, a delegation from Doha visited Gaza to discuss related issues and we decided to start work after Ramadan.” The reconstruction projects include street paving, agriculture development, health centres and housing units. “All plans are ready and the first phase will be the biggest,” he added.

Qatar’s policy towards the Gaza Strip and its good relations with Hamas has long been a cause of resentment for the Fatah and PA leadership.