U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry leans into speak in the ear of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he arrives at Andalus Villa in Cairo on the sidelines of the Gaza Donor Conference, October 12, 2014. (REUTERS/Carolyn Kaster)
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A donor conference in Cairo to raise money for Gaza after this year's war between Hamas and Israel ended with pledges of $5.4 billion, half of which will be "dedicated" to the reconstruction of the coastal strip, Norway's foreign minister said Sunday.Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende offered the figure at the end of Sunday's one-day conference, far beyond the $4 billion initially sought by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah, in announcing his country's pledge, denounced the "international silence" that surrounded Gaza's destruction.Organizers of the Cairo conference hope the pledges will be paid over the period of three years to aid reconstruction in the Gaza Strip. Israel and Egypt have blockaded Gaza since Hamas took power there in 2007, causing the territory of 1.8 million people economic hardships and high unemployment. Donors plan to funnel the aid through Abbas' Palestinian Authority, and bypass Hamas. Abbas and Hamas recently formed a national unity government which held its first Cabinet meeting in Gaza last week. The latest conflict in Gaza killed more than 2,000 Palestinians – mostly civilians, the U.N. says.
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