A good-hearted global citizen would assume that the amount of money raised in an international conference of donors under the title “for the reconstruction of Gaza” is for that purpose. However, he would be wrong. The official declaration of the conference, that took place in Cairo last Sunday, stated that the donor countries would give “5.4 billion dollars for the Palestinian people, and half of it for the reconstruction of Gaza” in the period between 2014 and 2017.
So what it is the allocation of the other half (2.7 billion dollars)? At the end of the conference, no one seemed to know. Journalists were not given a copy of the final statement. It was just read by one of the co-chairs of the event in the closing session.
Two members of the Egyptian delegation, which was in charge of organizing the conference, did not agree about it. One said that the 2.7 billion dollars would be spent in projects in Gaza but not directly related to its reconstruction. The other argued that the amount would be for several different purposes, among them, to support financially the Palestinian National Authority. Therefore, it could well be spent in the West Bank and not in Gaza.
Let’s have a look at the contribution of a single country, like Spain, to try to have clearer picture. In an improvised press conference with the Spanish media, Jesus Gracia, the vice minister responsible for International Cooperation, said that Spain will give “36 million Euros for Palestine, half of it for the reconstruction of Gaza”.
When we asked about the specific allocation of the funds for Gaza, he said: “To several projects, such as to develop the agriculture and to promote gender equality”. That did not look directly related to the reconstruction of the infrastructure destroyed during the war. “In general, we could say all this helps to rebuild the Strip”, he answered.
When pressed about how much money had been disbursed after the war of last summer, he said one million Euros. So the out of the 36 million Euros that Spain promised to give in the conference “for the reconstruction of Gaza”, there was only one that really was added after the war. The other 35 were for projects that had already been approved before last summer. What a scam!!
If most countries did the same, the real figure of international aid to Gaza would be much less that the 4 billion that the Palestinian National Authority deems necessary for rebuild the Strip after the devastating Israeli bombardments. And even less than the official 2.7 billion dollars. I doubt anyone knows the actual figure.
The international community just announced the 5.4 billion dollars “to the Palestinian people” in order to get a nice headline and pretend that they are solidary with the Gazan people. The Norwegian ministry of Foreign Affairs, co-organizer of the event informed in an tweet that the 5.4 billion were for “Palestine”, leading people to believe they were all for Gaza. This strategy of deceit worked perfectly. Most international media attributed those 5,4 billion to the “reconstruction of Gaza” al though much of it was for the West Bank.
I drew two sad conclusions from the conference:
1) The donor countries don’t respect the Gazan people, who were led to believe that the international community will generously rebuild their land. However, probably, the trick did not work with them, since people from Gaza know very well about the “intricacies” of diplomacy at this point.
2) They acted like this because they knew the media would not challenge their tricky figures. They knew that most journalists would just copy the official 5.4 billion dollars. They knew that there is no space for critical thinking in mass media. If there is a reporter who dares to challenge the official narrative, his/her editor will adjust the text so that it fits with the mainstream narrative.
Shame on them, these governments that tell blatant lies to their citizens. Shame on us, the media who propagate them.