First internaitonal Gaza reconstruction conference begins in Istanbul
Organized by the Palestine Platform and the International Gaza Reconstruction Commission, the First International Gaza Reconstruction Conference began in Istanbul yesterday with the attendance of more than 1,000 businesspeople and representatives of non-governmental organizations from 30 countries. Speaking at the opening of the conference, Erol Yarar, the head of the Palestine Platform, called for more financial support for Gaza reconstruction efforts. "The Gaza Reconstruction Commission has carried out feasibility studies on 460 projects worth $300 million for Gaza's reconstruction, has prepared projects and is seeking support," he said. Also speaking on the first day of the conference, Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Irfan Gündüz said that Turkey expects the international community to lift the embargo on Palestine and Gaza and give back the territories under occupation to their rightful owners. "We also expect the international community to immediately grant the indispensable rights of Palestine, including the right to self-determination, and to establish an independent Palestinian state, with its capital in Jerusalem," Also the chairman of the Turkish Group at the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Gunduz said Turkey has consistently condemned Israeli violence against Palestinians. He also said Turkey expects international organizations like the UN, NATO and the European Union not to remain silent in the face of the tragedy in Palestine and Gaza but instead to take action. Gunduz also said that Turkey would continue to help meet Gazans' humanitarian and other needs, and exert every effort to end the tragedy in Palestine. Wa'el Al-Sakka, the head of the International Gaza Reconstruction Commission, pledged a transparent and accountable organization for aid distribution in Gaza. He said financial and humanitarian aid sent to Gaza will be used and handed out to the Palestinian people under the supervision of public authorities and NGOs in a way free from political and economic disputes. Gaza Mayor Refik Mekki talked about the ongoing humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, calling for more aid from the international community. He also thanked the Turkish government and people, especially Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for their moral and financial support to the Palestinian people, adding that they would never forget the Turkish people standing by them during the last Israeli offensive in Gaza. The conference will end today.