Over 50 countries and international organizations are meeting in Paris on Thursday to discuss how to provide aid to civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip during Israel's war with Hamas.
Opening the conference, French President Emmanuel Macron urged for a quick humanitarian pause, adding that countries must work toward a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.
"Civilians must be protected, that's indispensable and non-negotiable and is an immediate necessity," Macron said.
The conference, which will include proposals for a humanitarian maritime corridor and floating field hospitals, comes ahead of the annual Paris Peace Forum on November 10-11.
"The idea is to go around all the major donors and speed up aid to Gaza," France's Foreign Ministry said last week, adding that there would be sections on donations of goods such as food, fuel and medical supplies, financial support and humanitarian access.
NGOs to detail Palestinians' needs in Gaza
Regional powers like Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf countries will attend the conference alongside European countries and the United States.
Palestinian Authority's Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh will be a part of the meeting.
Israeli authorities won't participate, but French officials have said that Israel will be kept informed of developments.
The prime ministers of Greece, Ireland and Luxembourg will take part in the conference, along with EU chiefs Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen.
International institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Gaza, such as the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Doctors Without Borders, are also slated to attend Thursday's meeting and outline the urgent needs of Palestinians in Gaza.
Groundwork for international response to aid
French President Emmanuel Macron, who urged a "humanitarian pause" in the Israel-Hamas war, wants the conference to address the Palestinian enclave's growing needs including food, water, health supplies, electricity and fuel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that no fuel will be delivered to Gaza and no cease-fire implemented with Hamas unless the Islamist militant group frees the hostages it took during terror attacks in southern Israel that also left 1,400 dead.
Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, has been designated a terrorist organization by the EU as well as Germany, Israel and the United States, among other nations.
Macron and Netanyahu spoke on Tuesday and the two are scheduled to talk again once the aid conference is over, France's Elysee Palace said.
Officials in France also hope that the conference will lay the groundwork for a prompt international response when there is an actual pause in the fighting.
There will be some effort to mobilize financial resources with several sectors identified for emergency support on the basis of UN assessments of the $1.1 billion of immediate needs.
Meanwhile, France is due to announce an increase in its commitments.
dvv/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)