International media widely reported that US $5.4 billion was pledged by international donors at the Cairo International Conference on Palestine for Reconstructing Gaza on October 13, 2014. These reports gave the impression that the funding needed for the reconstruction of Gaza was secured.
Later it was reported, less widely, that only half of the pledged amount was earmarked specifically for Gaza reconstruction, and it remained unclear how much of the funding was new commitments and how much had been previously announced.
The basis of the funding request was the Palestinian Authority’s National Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan for Gaza. The Plan estimated the total costs of the reconstruction effort at $4 billion through 2017 of which $414 million was required for immediate relief, $1.2 billion for early recovery, and $2.4 billion for reconstruction.
What actually got funded at the Cairo conference wasn’t at all clear. After a period of confusion, the World Bank set out to clarify donors’ intentions and after a considerable effort they published a tally that shows dramatic under-fulfillment of pledges. The amount of funding actually received fell far short of the amount pledged after the 2008 – 2009 Israeli assault on Gaza, too.
But there are still major questions about the data the World Bank is reporting:
- Through which entities are pledges going to be channeled and with what impact on local ownership?
- How are resource allocation decisions being made and with what impact on Palestinian self-determination?
- Who is monitoring how aid funds are spent and with what impact on accountability?
Some donors are blaming slow payment of pledges on the lack of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, which is, they say, impeding operation of the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism. Others say the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, an agreement among the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the United Nations is fundamentally flawed. Some critics point to the potential illegality of the agreement while others say that it’s poorly conceived -- even if it functioned as planned, it could not facilitate import of construction materials fast enough to meet the basic needs of the population of Gaza.
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