The Palestinians are seeking $2.8 billion dollars for Gaza. A key complication is that the United States does not recognize the Hamas movement that rules Gaza and will not allow aid money to flow through Hamas.
The pledge conference for Gaza reflects in part a U.S. effort to move quickly to influence events there, where the Islamic militants of Hamas are aligned with Iran and opposed to peace talks with Israel. Hamas is at odds with the other key Palestinian faction, Fatah, which takes a more moderate approach to Israel.
Clinton also will visit Israel to underscore President Barack Obama's commitment to finding a "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that establishes a sovereign Palestinian state at peace with Israel.
After its elections Feb. 10, Israel is operating under a caretaker government. The hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to form a coalition government but the timing and outcome are in doubt.
Among leaders Clinton would be expected to visit in Israel are Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, leader of the centrist Kadima Party, which won one more seat in the election than Netanyahu's Likud. Netanyahu, who opposes moving forward in peace talks with the Palestinians, was asked to put together the next government because he has the support of a majority of the elected lawmakers.
Clinton also will venture into the West Bank to meet with leaders of the Palestinian Authority, including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas.
After focusing her first foreign trip on the Pacific Rim of Asia, Clinton is going to the Middle East and to Europe to try to build on what the Obama administration believes is early enthusiasm in those regions for changing the dynamic of relations with America after years of disconnect on many key issues.
Daniel Fried, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs, said Friday the main theme of Clinton's visit to Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday will be "the reconnection of the United States to Europe and a sense of consolidating some of the enormous political goodwill on both sides of the Atlantic, and harnessing it to a common agenda
- not an American agenda but a common trans-Atlantic agenda."
On Friday, Clinton is scheduled to meet in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who had a sometimes rocky relationship with Clinton's predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, a Russian affairs specialist.
Lavrov was quoted by Russian news agencies on Friday as saying he expected the Geneva meeting to focus on arms control. That was an issue of great frustration for the Russians during the administration of former President George W. Bush, which abandoned the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty early in his first term in order to accelerate the development of a missile defense opposed by Moscow.