Who Will Pay to Rebuild Gaza?
Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 20th January, 2009
The United Nations has estimated that it will cost billions of dollars to repair the damage done to Gaza’s infrastructure as a consequence of the three-week Israeli onslaught. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, is currently visiting the north of the battered Strip to get a personal idea of the challenges of reconstruction. Meanwhile, John Holmes, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, says hundreds of millions of dollars are needed immediately to help the 1.4 million Gazans living in dire conditions. Mr Holmes said that some neighbourhoods have been almost totally destroyed, and many homes have been reduced to rubble. Unexploded ordinance is a big problem, raw sewage is flowing in the streets and people’s food, water and medical needs are immense. A number of UN facilities, not least schools, were also trashed in the Israeli assault.
The big question now is: who should pay to put things right? The Palestinans don’t have the necessary resources. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has promised $1 billion, which is a significant start. And some emergency funds should be available from within the UN budget. The EU will doubtless rally round too, though Europeans would be right to feel aggrieved that facilities their tax money pays for — including in the occupied West Bank – sometimes get pulverised by the Israelis with impunity.
But the big question that few Western politicians have so far dared to ask is: shouldn’t Israel be obliged to pay war reperations? Especially if cases of war crimes are launched against the Israeli Defence Force and the government in Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, perhaps it would be appropriate for the incoming Obama administration in Washington to divert some of the money the US annually gives in aid to Israel to helping rebuild Gaza instead. That would certainly be a more positive contribution to promoting Middle East peace.