Brown and Abbas discuss Middle East peace, cost of Gaza conflict

Other News Materials 5 February 2009 21:38 (UTC +04:00)

The destruction caused to the Gaza Strip in last month's Israeli campaign will cost 15 billion dollars to repair, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in London Thursday, dpa reported.

Abbas, who was speaking after talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said that despite the bitterness and fighting there was "no alternative to peace" in the Middle East.

Brown pledged Britain's support for the reconstruction of Gaza, and urged Israel to allow aid to get through to the victims of the conflict.

"We are only now seeing the full extent of the problems we face," said Brown. "So we must do everything we can...to help rebuild Gaza and to provide humanitarian relief."

Brown said he had written to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this week to urge him to allow full humanitarian access to those seeking to get food and medicines to those who need it.

"I believe that this is as strongly in Israel's interest as it is in the interests of all of us who have been so shocked by the violence and loss of life," said Brown.

He said the countries of the region "must show that they will not tolerate an armed Hamas and do more to stop arms smuggling into Gaza."

The West, meanwhile, needed to encourage dialogue and reconciliation between Palestinian leaders in the hope that there would be a "true peace dividend."