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Aid conference hollow if countries rebuilding Gaza are funding the forces destroying it

October 14, 2014 at 2:47 pm

At a conference in Cairo on Sunday Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende announced that international donors have pledged $5.4bn (£3.4bn) towards the reconstruction of Gaza, exceeding the $4bn (£2.5bn) the Palestinian Authority had requested.

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said donations from member states would reach $568m (£353m). Gulf States pledged a combined $2bn. The US pledged $212m (£132m) in new aid. The UK is to give $32 million dollars.

The international community no doubt left the conference feeling like they had achieved something. The Gaza Strip, devastated by Israel’s 51 day assault, will be rebuilt with this money. The amount pledged laying testimony to the world’s commitment to this goal.

The UK’s International Development Minister Desmond Swayne, after announcing the country’s pledge, said the international community could not continue to pick up the pieces of the conflict indefinitely. He said: “It is critical that reconstruction efforts now form part of a process of meaningful political change.” Earlier US Secretary of State John Kerry stated that anything other than a long-term commitment to peace would be a “Band-Aid fix”. Washington’s pledge of cash came with a plea by Kerry for Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace negotiations to give assurance to donor nations that projects funded would not be destroyed in another war.

Kerry said the new aid brought Washington’s contribution to helping Gaza to more than $400 million over the last year alone. However, over the past 60 years, Israel has absorbed close to a quarter-trillion dollars in military aid from the US. In 2007, the Bush Administration and the Israeli government agreed to a 10-year, $30 billion military aid package. Last year alone, Washington sent some $3.1 billion in military aid. Overall, the United States covers nearly one quarter of Israel’s defense budget — from tear gas canisters to F-16 fighter jets.

In 2013, Israel received around £8bn in the form of 400 arms licenses from the UK. A report by a British arms export controls parliamentary committee shows that the arms Israel received included combat drones, F-16 and Apache fighter jets, which were un-doubtingly used in the recent Gaza offensive.

In 2009, David Miliband, then Foreign Secretary confirmed that Israeli equipment that had been used in Gaza in the 2008-9 conflict ‘almost certainly’ contained UK-supplied components. Since then successive UK has governments have licensed a further £50 million worth of arms to Israel.

European Union countries also export huge volumes of weapons and military equipment to Israel. In the period 2005-09, EU countries granted arms exports licenses to Israel worth €7.47bn. Despite hostilities in Gaza in 2012, military export licenses from Europe to Israel increased from €157 million to €613 million, an increase of 290%. The majority of this increase came from the advanced trainer aircraft Alenia Aermacchi M-346 deal with Italy which was worth €472 million: in exchange Italy has agreed to purchase military equipment from Israel for a similar amount.

In the period 2007-13, Israeli military companies took part in research projects to which the EU awarded €244m.

Israel is the 7th largest arms exporter in the world and the largest per capita exporter, according to a fact sheet from the BDS movement. This is Gaza’s third war in six years. The International donations will indeed act as a “band aid” fix if the same countries paying for the reconstruction of Gaza are funding the forces destroying it.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.