(Adds Israel's position, background in last three
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, March 2 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will
donate food, medication, armored vehicles and civilian
helicopters to the Palestinian National Authority to help
rebuild the Gaza Strip, Russia's foreign minister said on
Delegates, representing some 85 countries and international
organizations, gathered on Monday in the Egyptian resort town
of Sharm el-Sheikh for a conference on the reconstruction of
the Gaza Strip following a three-week offensive by Israel in
January which saw some 1,300 Palestinians killed and 5,000
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said the impoverished
enclave will need some $2.8 billion in aid for reconstruction
According to an official statement from Russian President
Dmitry Medvedev delivered by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at
the conference, "large quantities of flour will be delivered in
the near future for Palestinian needs through the UN World Food
Program" and two additional Russian cargo planes will deliver
medication and other humanitarian aid.
The official statement also said that "50 armored vehicles and
2 civilian helicopters would be given to the PNA."
Prime Minister Lavrov said that Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas must "give assurances of the effectiveness of using
international aid to rebuild the Gaza Strip as an integral part
of the future of the Palestinian government."
The conference is being attended by UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, U.S. Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton, French President Nicolas Sarkozy,
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Russian Foreign
Minister Sergei Lavrov, as well as another 45 foreign ministers
from other countries.
A meeting of members of the Middle East peace Quartet - the EU,
Russia, the UN and the U.S. - will also discuss progress on a
Palestinian-Israel peace settlement on the sidelines of the
Earlier on Sunday Persian Gulf states pledged some $1.64
billion in aid for Gaza during a meeting of the Gulf
Cooperation Council, a trade bloc comprising Saudi Arabia, the
U.A.E., Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman.
In a statement delivered to the conference participants, the
Russian president also said that Russia was prepared to train
Palestinian specialists; noting that 150 students, from the
enclave of 1.5 million, attended Russian higher education
institutes annually and some 100 Palestinian law enforcement
workers were also receiving training.
The presidential statement also said that Russia, "being one of
the co-sponsors of the conference, supports the objectives of
those countries and organizations which have gathered in Sharm
el-Sheikh to help the Palestinians rebuild the Gaza Strip."
The Israeli side said it had no objections to armored
vehicles being given to Gaza if the mounted weapons were
"We sanctioned the delivery of armored vehicles without
weapons. As far as I understand, the Palestinians oppose this,
having decided they do not need them without weapons," said
Peter Lerner, a spokesman for Israeli's Coordination of
Government Activities in the Territories office.
Russia delivered 45 armored vehicles to Gaza in 1995, most
of which were subsequently destroyed by Israeli troops.