US secretary of state to make plea at donor conference for Gaza reconstruction in Cairo Sunday

US Secretary of State John Kerry will call for a revival of the collapsed Israeli-Palestinian peace process on Sunday when he attends an international conference in Cairo on rebuilding Gaza, American officials said

The top US diplomat and 30 of his counterparts convene in the Egyptian capital alongside UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is seeking a record $1.6 billion in aid to rebuild the battered Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian government last week unveiled a 76-page reconstruction plan for Gaza, calling for $4 billion to rebuild the war-battered territory, with the largest amount going to build housing for some 100,000 left homeless.

The Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip killed nearly 2,200 people, at least half of them combatants according to Israel, while 72 died on the Israeli side, 66 of them soldiers. Israel blames Hamas for all fatalities, since it emplaced its war machine in residential areas. Hamas fired some 4,500 rockets and projectiles at Israel and staged several attacks through tunnels dug under the border.

The war ended in August with a temporary ceasefire, and indirect negotiations for a permanent truce are due to resume under Egyptian mediation later this month.

Kerry will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the donor conference, having last met at the UN General Assembly in September, State Department officials said.

“You will hear the secretary reaffirm the commitment of the United States to helping the parties achieve a negotiated two-state solution and our willingness to re-engage in the negotiations and help facilitate successful negotiations,” a State Department official said.

“More broadly we are interested in sort of breaking the cycle we have been in in the last six years of war and reconstruction there,” the official added.

Kerry was the architect of a high-profile bid to re-start negotiations, which collapsed in April, and were followed by the devastating 50-day war in Gaza, the third conflict in the enclave in six years.