Agence France Presse (AFP)
March 2, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas told international donors gathered in Egypt on Monday that financial aid without an end to the conflict with Israel would be 'insufficient.'

"We are all conscious that the reconstruction and development efforts will remain insufficient, powerless and threatened in the absence of a political settlement," Abbas said at the conference in Sharm El-Sheikh.

"We appreciate your presence and the financial, economic and technical support that you are giving to the Palestinian people but we insist on the pressing need to achieve substantial progress towards a just settlement (of the conflict with Israel)."

US-backed peace talks aimed at creating an independent Palestinian state side by side with Israel have been frozen since the three-week war on Gaza in December and January.

"The Israeli war machine has destroyed several times many of our insitutions, schools and infrastructure which we have built with the help of our friends and our brothers," Abbas said.

He urged donors to heed the Palestinian call for 2.8 billion dollars in financial aid and to rebuild Gaza, where more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, over 5,000 wounded and tens of thousands made homeless in the war.

Abbas also asked the international community to take urgent steps to helprevive the peace process at a time when Israel is set for a right-wing government led by hawkish former premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

The world, Abbas said, must ask the next Israeli government "to commit itself to a two-state solution and to respect agreements signed (between thePalestinian Authority and Israel)."

"Relaunching the peace process is not possible if these essential demands are not met," Abbas said.

There must be "rapid action on the part of the administration of (US President Barack) Obama and the other members of the Quartet," he added.

A meeting of the Middle East Quartet, which also comprises the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, is expected to be held on the sidelines of the donor conference.


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