EU to pledge $556 million in Palestinian aid

The European Union's executive office said Friday it would pledge €436 million ($556 million) at an international donors' conference for Palestinians, including support for rebuilding Gaza. The pledge will be presented formally Monday in Egypt at the donors' meeting, which is to focus on gathering international aid to rebuild the Gaza Strip. Israel's three-week offensive there, which ended last month, caused widespread damage. The executive's pledge is just part of the EU's total pledge to the Palestinians. The 27-member bloc's individual nations were expected to announce their own pledges at the conference. The EU as a whole is the largest donor to the Palestinians. It now gives some €1 billion a year in aid. EU officials said just over half the commission's pledge will go toward reconstruction and humanitarian efforts in Gaza.