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Clinton in Egypt for Gaza Aid Conference

  • VOA News

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh for a conference of international donors raising money to rebuild the Gaza Strip.

Clinton is expected to offer $900 million at Monday's meeting to raise money for the territory following Israel's military offensive earlier this year. The Palestinian Authority says it needs to raise $2.8 billion to reconstruct Gaza.

International Mideast envoy Tony Blair visited Gaza Sunday to examine reconstruction needs.

The former British prime minister said international aid to Gaza will not have a lasting impact unless there is a political solution to Israel's conflict with Hamas. Israel and Egypt have largely blockaded Gaza since Hamas seized power in the territory in 2007.

Mr. Blair represents the international quartet of the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations. During his visit to Gaza, he did not meet with Hamas, a group the quartet refuses to deal with directly.

Clinton has said no U.S. money will be transferred to Hamas, which was not invited to the donors' conference. After the conference, Clinton is scheduled to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

On Sunday, Israel again threatened to retaliate for ongoing rocket attacks by Gaza militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet that Israel will not tolerate the rocket fire. Israel's military says 110 rockets and mortars have hit the country since January 18th, when it ended a three-week assault on Hamas militants who control Gaza.

Hamas also declared a cease-fire in January.

In another development, Gaza medics say five Palestinians were killed Sunday when a smuggling tunnel collapsed under Gaza's border with Egypt. Smugglers have been using a network of cross-border tunnels to bring goods and weapons into Gaza.

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