Ma'an News Agency
May 26, 2011 - 12:00am

Muhammad Mustafa, the Palestine Investment Fund president, announced Thursday the establishment of a $1 billion investment fund for the reconstruction of Gaza.

The rumored top candidate for the role of prime minister in the new technocrat government arrived in Gaza on Wednesday, to coordinate reconstruction efforts and meet with prominent contractors and businesspeople.

During the announcement he said priority projects at the outset would be for reconstruction of the devastated coastal enclave, explaining that projects would get off the ground as soon as details of the May 4 unity agreement had been ironed out.

Mustafa said the parameters of the fund had been arranged with Gaza business owners, and final plans had been agreed Wednesday when he arrived with a delegation.

The official was accompanied by Azzam Ash-Shawwa, Al-Quds bank manager in Ramallah, and Abdullah Al-Efranji, member of the Fatah central committee.

Cash for the project came from around the globe, the official said, with the first $200 million from Palestinian investors, and the rest matched by Middle East and international donors.

"The goal is to start building Gaza's economy as part of a state economy based on self-reliance," he said.

"Palestinian strength depends on the unity of its people, an asset more valuable than investment capital," he concluded, thanking partners in Gaza for "working, not just talking" and making the fund a reality.

Mustafa is rumored to be a top candidate for the premiership of the new technocrat government being discussed in Cairo in the wake of the May 4 deal.

One of the roles of the new government, which is being hammered out in Cairo by delegates from former rival parties Hamas and Fatah, will be to oversee the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, devastated by Israel's 2008-9 offensive and seven years of siege and restrictions.

It is the official's first visit to Gaza in four years.

"I hope we can make some genuine partnerships between investors and companies in Gaza," he told Ma'an.

Mustafa brushed off rumors that he was currently the top candidate for the job of premier in the coming technocrat government, saying "I've not been officially informed."


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