JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Palestinian Authority is to ask foreign governments on Monday for $1.33 billion to repair and renew homes, industry and other facilities in the Gaza Strip after last month's Israeli offensive.
According to a detailed and confidential Palestinian plan to be presented at an international donors conference in Egypt on Monday -- a copy of which was obtained by Reuters on Thursday -- the Authority is also seeking $1.45 billion in budget support for current spending in 2009, such as civil servants' wages.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, in a foreword to the 53-page document, called it an ambitious program not just to repair the damage of the recent war, which killed 1,300 and left thousands homeless, but to relaunch Gaza's entire economy after years of violence and a tight Israeli blockade.
However, that would only be possible, he added, if Israel ends its embargo and if Palestinian leaders overcome the schism that has seen Hamas Islamists control the coastal territory, from which Israel pulled out troops in 2005, while Fayyad's Western-backed government runs the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Since Israel has made clear its opposition to letting Gaza flourish to the benefit of Hamas and since Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's secular Fatah faction are far from overcoming bitter differences, putting the reconstruction plan into effect, however generous donors are, will be a problem.
The goal is not to turn the clock back two months, or even to June 2007, Fayyad wrote, referring to when Hamas seized control of Gaza and Israel tightened its blockade. But to make a qualitative change to the socio-economic situation.
Fayyad's proposals make not a single mention of Hamas and make clear that aid spending would be coordinated by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, whose forces were routed in Gaza in June 2007 by fighters from Hamas, which had formed a government after it won a parliamentary election a year earlier.
The Islamists, on the other hand, insist they should have a role, despite the refusal of the international powers to deal with them until Hamas renounces violence against Israel, which said it attacked Gaza to curb Hamas's rocket fire over the border.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be among the senior officials at the reconstruction conference. Washington has promised more than $900 million of aid, while the European Union, the major donor to Palestinians, will also offer funds.
Fayyad's proposal -- the Palestinian National Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan for Gaza -- sets out five broad areas for spending this year and next: social, infrastructure, economic, governance and natural resources and environment.
In the social field, $36 million is penciled in for health spending, $55 million for education, including rebuilding schools, and $203 million for projects aimed at promoting social welfare and mental health for traumatized children and others.
It seeks $348 million for housing, $119 million for transport, $266 million for farming and $146 million for industry.
Among proposals for responding to what the document called the horrendous Israeli assault, were plans to not just repair but to improve on what went before, to build back better.
Where a school or a clinic was flattened, we will build a more modern one in its place, the document said. The goal is not to turn back the clock, but to wind it forward.
In addition to the reconstruction aid, Fayyad's government is looking for $1.45 billion in general budget support for 2009 -- $300 million more than it previously had estimated as a result of emergency costs created by the war and its aftermath.
(Reporting by Adam Entous, writing by Alastair Macdonald)