WASHINGTON (JTA) — The United States will use Palestinian emergency relief as a platform toward a two-state solution, Hillary Rodham Clinton said.
The U.S. secretary of state formally announced the U.S. contribution of $900 million at an international donors’ conference Monday in the Egyptian resort Sharm el-Sheik aimed at reconstructing Gaza.
Some 80 countries and international organizations are participating in the conference, which plans to raise at least $2.8 billion.
Clinton said she saw the initiative, in the wake of Gaza’s devastation after its Hamas overlords launched a war against Israel, as having short-term and long-term goals.
"It is not enough just to respond to the immediate needs of the Palestinian people," she said. "Our response to today’s crisis in Gaza cannot be separated from our broader efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace. Only by acting now can we turn this crisis into an opportunity that moves us closer to our shared goals."
Clinton emphasized that the partner in this effort was the moderate Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Hamas drove out Abbas loyalists in a bloody coup in the summer of 2007. Hamas was not invited to the conference, according to reports.
"They are offering their people the option of a peaceful, independent and more prosperous future, not the violence and false choices of extremists whose tactics — including rocket attacks that continue to this day — only will lead to more hardship and suffering," Clinton said. "These attacks must stop."
Clinton added that the U.S. assistance had been "designed in coordination" with the P.A. government.
"We have worked with the Palestinian Authority to install safeguards that will ensure that our funding is only used where, and for whom, it is intended and does not end up in the wrong hands," she said.
Also at the conference, Clinton said she was not optimistic that Iran would respond positively to a U.S. offer of engagement.
"We’re under no illusions; our eyes are wide open," she told United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan about the prospect of direct talks with Iran, according to an account from a senior State Department official provided to The New York Times.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak opened the conference by stating that his country’s main priority is helping Israel and the Palestinians reach a truce. He also called on the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and Hamas to form a unity government.
Abbas told the donor countries that they must urge Israel’s new government to commit to a two-state solution and respect agreements signed by previous governments.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy asked Palestinians to back Abbas and proposed a summit to revive peace in theMiddle East to be held in Europe this spring. Sarkozy has notably negotiated for peace in the region through his working relationship with leaders close to Hamas, such as Syria’s Bashar Assad.
To “countries who have links to Hamas,” Sarkozy warned, “you have a particular responsibility to demand that Hamas join President Abbas, whose path toward peace is the only one that will produce results,” reported Reuters.