SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AFP) - International donors on Monday pledged almost 4.5 billion dollars to the Palestinians and demanded the immediate lifting of Israel's crippling blockade on war-battered Gaza. But the donors meeting in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh insisted that the aid money for the Gaza Strip must bypass its rulers, Hamas. "We have gathered today 4.481 billion dollars, in addition to previous pledges," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abul Gheit said at the close of the conference aimed at helping to rebuild Gaza after Israel's three-week war. He said donors called for "the immediate, total and unconditional opening" of Gaza's borders to ease a blockade that has prevented all but vital humanitarian aid reaching the impoverished enclave's 1.4 million inhabitants. World leaders at the conference also appealed for urgent action to breathe new life into the moribund Middle East peace process and said reconciliation between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas's Fatah was crucial. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her first visit to the region as America's top diplomat, said the economic aid must go hand-in-hand with efforts to reach a comprehensive peace deal. "Our response to today's crisis in Gaza cannot be separated from our broader efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace," she said. "This conference has been 100 percent successful," Palestinian planning minister Samir Abdallah told AFP. Abul Gheit said the amount pledged on Monday was more than expected and added to previous pledges brought the total aid to 5.2 billion dollars. The US administration pledged 900 million dollars, which Clinton said must not end up in the "wrong hands," while the Arab monarchies of the Gulf have pledged 1.65 billion and the EU 554 million dollars. Abbas said any economic aid was "insufficient" without a political settlement to the decades-old Middle East conflict, with the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. He called on the international community to take urgent steps to help revive peace talks at a time when Israel is set for a right-wing government led by hawkish former premier Benjamin Netanyahu. UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the opening of the crossings to Gaza was "indispensable." "The situation at the border crossings is intolerable. Aid workers do not have access. Essential commodities cannot get in." Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad had said that Gaza construction could begin within six weeks if the crossing points were open. However, the Palestinian Authority's power extends only to the Israeli-occupied West Bank since the Hamas takeover effectively split the Palestinians into two separately-ruled entities. Hamas had said it would not accept any "politicised" aid, with spokesman Fawzi Barhum calling on the international community not to get involved in "internal Palestinian divisions."