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WASHINGTON - U.S. congressmen are seeking to condition $900 million in aid for the Palestinians on ending Gazan rocket fire on Israel and the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged the $900 million during a conference in Egypt this week, which sought to raise money for rebuilding Gaza after Israel's three-week Operation Cast Lead.

The offensive was aimed at halting rocket fire on southern communities.

Shalit has been held captive in Gaza since a cross-border raid in June 2006.

The proposal followed a meeting on Capitol Hill between Noam Badin, the director of the communications center in Qassam-battered Sderot and several congressmen and their advisors.

After the meeting, Rep. Shelley Berkley of Nevada drafted a petition to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which demanded that the aid be delayed as long as the rocket fire continues and Shalit remains captive.

Berkley, a Jewish politician well-known for her support of Israel, backed the Israeli operation in Gaza during December and January, and even told Haaretz that Israel may have been too tolerant.