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As Gaza rebuilds, Hamas and the PA struggle for control of aid cash

Audio 07:54
The reconstruction effort begins . . .
The reconstruction effort begins . . . AP - John Minchillo

The latest Israeli attacks on Gaza have damaged many hundreds of buildings, including homes, mosques, factories and government-run facilities. As the reconstruction process begins once again, there is a debate about who will administer the millions of dollars available, with both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority claiming the right to supervise re-building.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has vowed to provide millions of dollars in aid to help the war-ravaged Gaza Strip. 

The top diplomat of US President Joe Biden reiterated support for Israel's right to defend itself against rocket attacks by the Islamist group Hamas, which he said must not benefit from the aid effort.

But Blinken also stressed "the commitment of the United States to rebuilding the relationship with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people, a relationship built on mutual respect and also a shared conviction that Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve equal measures of security, freedom opportunity and dignity".

That language signalled a significant change in tone from the previous Trump administration, whose Middle East peace plan was rejected by Palestinians as heavily biased in Israel's favour.

"The United States will be moving forward with the process of reopening our consulate in Jerusalem," Blinken said after meeting Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah in May.

Hamas must not benefit from this effort

Blinken promised financial aid to Palestinians and emergency assistance to help rebuild the impoverished Gaza Strip, as well as efforts to shore up the ceasefire between Israel and the enclave's rulers Hamas.

"The United States will notify Congress of our intention to provide $75 million in additional development and economic assistance to the Palestinians in 2021," he said.

That was to come on top of $5.5 million dollars in immediate disaster assistance for Gaza and about $32 million for an emergency humanitarian appeal by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, he said.

Blinken reiterated that the United States -- which considers Hamas a terrorist group -- "will work with partners to ensure that Hamas does not benefit from these reconstruction efforts".

Palestinian President Abbas said his administration was ready to "work directly to help with the reconstruction of Gaza," while stressing his support for "peaceful and popular resistance" by Palestinians against Israeli policies.

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