Palestinians take part in a rally in support of Qatar, inside Qatari-funded construction project 'Hamad City', in the southern Gaza Strip, June 9, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel’s regular allowing of Qatari funds to be transferred into Gaza, saying it is part of a broader strategy to keep Hamas and the Palestinian Authority separate, a source in Monday’s Likud faction meeting said.
Netanyahu explained that, in the past, the PA transferred the millions of dollars to Hamas in Gaza. He argued that it was better for Israel to serve as the pipeline to ensure the funds don’t go to terrorism.
“Now that we are supervising, we know it’s going to humanitarian causes,” the source said, paraphrasing Netanyahu.
The prime minister also said that, “whoever is against a Palestinian state should be for” transferring the funds to Gaza, because maintaining a separation between the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza helps prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu also spoke about his Bar-Ilan speech, in which he expressed support for a demilitarized Palestinian state a decade ago.
At the time, Netanyahu said, he told then-US vice president Joe Biden his conditions for a Palestinian state: that it be demilitarized, that Jerusalem remain unified and that Israel have full security control, including freedom of action for the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) to prevent terrorism against Israel.
Netanyahu recounted that Biden responded that it wouldn’t really be a Palestinian state, but that he can call it whatever he wants.
In addition, he told the Likud candidates in the faction meeting that he opposes any population transfers of Jews or Arabs, and that he’s “against uprooting even one person.”
He said that he had voted for the 2005 Gaza disengagement at first because it was only about territory, but when the discussions moved to moving thousands of people, he resigned from the government.
Party leaders across the political spectrum have criticized Netanyahu’s policies towards Gaza in general and the payments specifically.
The Blue and White Party’s platform calls to stop allowing the transfer of funds to Hamas, calling it mafia-style “protection” payments.
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who resigned as head of the Defense Ministry over Gaza policies, said on Saturday that the payments are a “miserable decision,” marking “the first time Israel is funding terrorism against itself.”
New Right leader Naftali Bennett called on Monday for Netanyahu to convene the Security Cabinet and present an operative plan to respond to rockets from Gaza.
“If there were explosive balloons hitting houses in Tel Aviv or a missile launched at [Tel Aviv], the IDF world stop it. With all due respect to Netanyahu, a country like Israel needs a full-time defense minister,” said Bennett, who would like the portfolio for himself.
MK Haim Jelin, running on the Labor list, accused Netanyahu of not taking seriously enough the incendiary projectiles launched from Gaza.
“We Gaza-border residents are paying the price for the lack of policy and the arrogance in facing terror,” he said.
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