Fayad: Send aid directly to needy Gazans

PA prime minister proposes plan to bypass Hamas, send money straight to owners of destroyed homes.

fayad speaking 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
fayad speaking 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Donor countries should send Gaza reconstruction funds directly to property owners and contractors, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad said Wednesday, offering a plan that effectively bypasses Hamas. Fayad is preparing a detailed spending proposal for international donors, to be presented at a pledging conference for rebuilding Gaza after Israel's offensive against Hamas last month. The conference is set for March 2 in Egypt, with about 80 countries and organizations participating. Fayad heads the West Bank-based government formed after Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza in June 2007. Hamas has said it wants to have a say over how the money is disbursed. However, the international community is unlikely to hand hundreds of millions of dollars to the Islamic terror group, still shunned by most of the world. The centerpiece of Fayad's plan is to send hundreds of millions of dollars in aid directly to owners of thousands of homes that were damaged or destroyed. Under the proposal, the donors would either send the money through Fayad's government or deal directly with Gaza's banks. Homeowners would apply for reconstruction money, get it through the banks and work under the supervision of independent inspectors. Fayad said he expects to sign a memorandum of understanding with Gaza banks on Thursday. He said he has also briefed donors, who he said like the idea. In any case, it will be up to the donors to decide on the aid mechanism when they meet in the Egyptian resort of Sharm e-Sheikh next month, he said. "It's a bypass of delays," he told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday, when asked if he was trying to bypass Hamas. "There are a lot of people in Gaza who are homeless, displaced and we really need to move fast to ensure that they have the housing they need as quickly as possible," he said. "We have examined different ways of possibly going about this, and the best we found is the one I have just described, aimed at getting assistance directly to people, through the banking system." Under Fayad's plan, even roads would be fixed by private contractors. Hamas accused him of trying to hijack reconstruction for political gain. "This is an attempt to politicize the project of reconstruction in Gaza, which contradicts all the Arab, international and Palestinian intentions to neutralize this project," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. However, it was not clear whether Hamas would try to stop the flow of aid and risk a backlash at home.