EU High Representative Catherine Ashton Sunday announced the EU's pledge of more than 450 million euros for the reconstruction of Gaza during the "Conference on Palestine, Reconstructing Gaza" in Cairo.
"The only durable solution to the situation in Gaza, which is in everyone's interest, is a political one. Our efforts for Gaza will be successful only if placed in the larger framework of our support to Palestine and our commitment to the peace process," she said in a statement released in Brussels tonight.
It noted that the EU reaffirmed its readiness to continue and expand its capacity-building efforts to the Palestinian Authority in view of its redeployment in Gaza and to support an effective and secure lifting of the closure through its presence at Gaza crossing points.
Furthermore, the EU is also ready to explore ways to support the creation of a land link that would consolidate the political and economic links between the West Bank and Gaza. The EU is also analysing the feasibility of a maritime link which could open Gaza to Europe and allow the people of Gaza to unlock their socio-economic potential.
The EU's ultimate objective remains a two-state solution, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security and mutual recognition.
"Only in this framework will Israelis and Palestinians, both from Gaza and from the West Bank, be able to find new hope and build a better future for them and their children," said Ashton.
The EU is the largest aid contributor to the Palestinians, with substantial support for the benefit of the Gaza population: in the last 10 years the EU has spent more than 1.3 billion euro in the Gaza Strip. Following the conflict in Gaza in 2009, the EU pledged 436 million euro and has delivered 524.4 million euro, it added.