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U.S. And Other Nations Pledge $5.4 Billion To Rebuild Gaza

At a Cairo aid conference to help rebuild Gaza, Secretary of State John Kerry paused to rub his eyes Sunday. The U.S. is promising another $212 million in aid. Carolyn Kaster/AP hide caption

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Carolyn Kaster/AP

At a Cairo aid conference to help rebuild Gaza, Secretary of State John Kerry paused to rub his eyes Sunday. The U.S. is promising another $212 million in aid.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

A one-day conference in Cairo has brought pledges of some $5.4 billion to help rebuild Gaza, the Palestinian territory whose infrastructure was crippled in 50 days of fighting between Hamas and Israel. The figure far surpasses an estimate from Palestinians who said the rebuilding project would cost $4 billion. U.S. officials had expressed doubt the meeting would yield that figure.

Envoys from dozens of donor nations gathered in Egypt Sunday to discuss Gaza's future. But the group did not include Israel — as the newspaper Haaretz reports, "Egyptian officials had feared that many Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, would cancel if they knew an Israeli would attend."

Update at 2:30 p.m. ET: Conference Raises $5.4 Billion

We've updated the top of this post to reflect the results of the meeting, after Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said in his closing statement that the session had brought promises of $5.4 billion for Gaza's reconstruction effort.

Qatar was the biggest contributor, pledging $1 billion; both Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates promised $200 million, as did Turkey. Other large donors included the European Union, with $568 million. The U.S. promised $212 million, bringing its total aid to Palestinians this year to $400 million.

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Speaking about Israel's absence from the conference, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman tells the Ynet news agency that his country will be involved in the reconstruction.

"You can't reconstruct Gaza without Israeli participation and without Israeli cooperation," he said. "The equipment goes through our border passes, so it's clear to everyone that you cannot move forward without Israeli cooperation."

Our original post continues:

From Cairo, NPR's Michele Kelemen reports:

"UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says Gaza remains a tinderbox, and many donors are wary about giving aid if this cycle of conflict and rebuilding continues. Secretary of State John Kerry was among those calling on Israelis and Palestinians to break that cycle and get back to peace talks. He says the U.S. is committed to helping the parties find a way forward. In the meantime, he pledged to help meet the urgent needs in Gaza.

" 'The people of Gaza do need our help, desperately,' Kerry said. 'Not tomorrow, not next week, but they need it now.'

"Kerry says the U.S. will give another $212 million in aid."

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi opened the meeting by calling for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, urging the adoption of a peace plan that was put forth by Saudi Arabia at the Arab League 12 years ago.

"It calls for full recognition of Israel," NPR's Leila Fadel reports, "if the Jewish state gives up all land seized in the 1967 war and agrees to a 'just solution' for Palestinian refugees. It's a plan Israel has already rejected."