by Melissa Mahfouz
Special to iVoryTowerz
The United States is starting to get it right in the Middle East. The U.S. has pledged $900 million in aid for reconstruction efforts in Gaza, thanks, in a large part, to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This move certainly transcends any political boundaries, but hopefully may be perceived by Palestinians and the Arab world as an effort by the U.S. to mend relations. The $900 million, however, is not pity money, but rather a recognition of the need for an independent Palestinian infrastructure, as well as a recognition for the wrongs directed towards the Palestinian people.
Secretary of State Clinton deserves quite a commendation for her efforts in the region already. (Clinton just concluded her first diplomatic swing through the region.) In the course of a few weeks, and with the reconstruction funds, she has already accomplished what the Bush administration failed to achieve over an eight year tenure. Now, there must be a diligent effort between the Palestinian Authority and Clinton’s crew to ensure that the money goes to the Palestinian people, which is quite a stretch. Internal meddling, corrupt officials, and political middlemen all stand as potential barriers to guaranteeing that each and every penny goes to reconstruction and development efforts. The largest portions of the aid package are to be allocated towards humanitarian aid, economic and public works projects, as well as funding for institution building projects and budget shortfalls within the Palestinian government.
If this aid and construction are successes, then the United States would have fostered a breakthrough not seen in years. Again, the major players we are counting on are Secretary Clinton, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarek, Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, regional public officials, and the voice of the Palestinian people themselves. This is quite an opportunity to forge multilateral relations, and to truly exert a much-needed diplomacy.
(The photo of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meeting in Ramallah with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority earlier this month is an official photo from the U.S. State Department and is in the public domain.)
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by Melissa Mahfouz