Dec 22, 12:54 PM EST

Palestinians say Gaza reconstruction pledges unfulfilled


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Palestinians say Gaza reconstruction pledges unfulfilled

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JERUSALEM (AP) -- International donors have so far failed to deliver billions of dollars in aid money that was promised to rebuild the war-battered Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official said Monday, saying the rift between rival Palestinian factions is deterring foreign governments from sending aid.

In the wake of a 50-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants over the summer, international donors promised $2.7 billion to help rebuild Gaza at a conference in Cairo in October. But Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa said "not even one penny" has been received from major donors such as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.

"Frankly speaking, what is happening now is not encouraging," Mustafa said. He said just a trickle of money has been received, but refused to elaborate.

"All the parties still have fears about the situation, whether the political situation or the reconciliation or the border crossings," he said.

Rival Palestinian groups Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and the Western-backed Fatah, which governs the West Bank, formed a unity government earlier this year. But the government is still not functioning, and the sides have argued over how to carry out reconstruction, including who will control crossings with Israel from where building materials will pass.

This summer's war devastated parts of Gaza, destroying thousands of buildings and leaving tens of thousands of people homeless. More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the fighting. In Israel, 66 soldiers and seven civilians were killed.

Despite the slow reconstruction efforts, the Israeli military said it allowed nine trucks into the territory Monday carrying equipment for a new Coca-Cola factory. Imad Hindi, a director of the Palestinian company licensed to produce the fizzy drink, said the factory will create 300 jobs. Production begins late next year, he said.

Also Monday, the Israel military said a Palestinian man was arrested after a foiled attack on a soldier in the West Bank. The army says other soldiers intervened to stop the unidentified Palestinian from stabbing his intended victim in the town of Tulkarem.

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Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh contributed reporting from Ramallah, West Bank.

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