Page last updated at 17:50 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Brown in Gaza reconstruction call

Gordon Brown and Mahmoud Abbas
Mr Abbas said the UK had a key role to play in rebuilding Gaza

The international community must make the reconstruction of Gaza a top priority, Gordon Brown has said.

Speaking after meeting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, Mr Brown said he had urged Israeli PM Ehud Olmert to grant aid agencies full access to Gaza.

He also said it was vital that the fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas remained in place.

Mr Abbas accused Israel of "dreadful aggression" in Gaza but said there was no alternative to the peace process.

Top priority

Gordon Brown said the UK had trebled its humanitarian aid to Gaza as a result of the recent conflict in which more than a thousand Palestinians, including 300 children, died.

He said it was in Israel's interest as well as that of the international community that aid agencies had unrestricted access to Gaza to help those in need.

"We must do everything we can to help rebuild Gaza and to provide humanitarian aid to families whose lives have been shattered," he said in Downing Street.

We must do everything we can to help rebuild Gaza and to provide humanitarian aid to families whose lives have been shattered
Gordon Brown

"We must help rebuild Gaza's economy to give hope that there can be a true peace dividend."

Countries in the region must do more to stop arms smuggling into Gaza while dialogue between different Palestinian groups must be stepped up to try and bring about a reconciliation, he said.

Progress in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians was a "top priority" for the UK and world leaders must focus on the search for a lasting peace in the region with "renewed urgency", Mr Brown added.

Mr Abbas said the cost of rebuilding Gaza would be close to $15bn (10.2bn) and the "world must keep sending aid".

The Palestinian Authority, which he heads, has said it will donate $600m (408.8m) towards reconstruction in Gaza.

He accused Israel of seeking to "deepen divisions" between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas through its campaign in Gaza, which Israel says was provoked by Hamas rocket attacks.

But he also attacked Hamas for perpetrating what he called "a revolution" in Gaza.

However, he called for Palestinian unity and for the resumption of peace talks with Israel on the basis of approved UN resolutions.

"We believe that there are no alternatives to peace in the Middle East," he said. "We remain committed to achieving peace."

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific