By Rami G. Khouri
Daily Star staff
"The international pledges at Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday of some $4.5 billion in aid to the Palestinians to rebuild the Gaza Strip and promote the development of the West Bank seem like a monumental folly in view of the surrounding political context of this gesture. The financial generosity of the donors was largely offset by their political cowardice on two fronts: in challenging Israel to live according to the norms of law in its treatment of the Palestinians under its occupation; and in coming to grips with Palestinian political realities, especially the legitimacy and role of Hamas.
On both counts, the generous donors seem unwilling to admit that they are perpetuating a wasteful cycle of Palestinian and international construction in Palestine that is being set back by repeated Israeli destruction through war, followed by repeated rounds of reconstruction. This recurring cycle is striking for its sheer waste, but also for what it reveals about the willingness of the international community to use reconstruction aid as a political tool - a failed tool that should be abandoned in favor of a more productive approach....."