Netanyahu defends second Qatari transfer of $15 million to Gaza via Israel

The prime minister justified allowing the transfer of the money, by saying that there is a humanitarian problem in Gaza that also impacts Israel

December 6, 2018 14:52
4 minute read.
Gaza Qatar

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)


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The second payment of the Qatari grant to the Gaza Strip was scheduled to arrive in the Gaza Strip late Thursday.

Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi will deliver the grant to Hamas leaders, according to Palestinian sources. al-Emadi was scheduled to enter the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing.

According to sources, the second installment of the Qatari aid will be distributed as follows: $5 million dollars for salaries, $5 million dollars for unemployed Palestinians, and $5 million dollars for relief and humanitarian aid.

Palestinians will be able to collect the payments on Friday.

Last month, Qatar delivered another $15 million in cash to the Gaza Strip. Qatar pledged a total of $90 million in aid to the Gaza Strip that will be distributed over a period of six months.

On Wednesday, Hamas said that the Palestinian Authority rejected an offer to transfer the Qatari funds to the Gaza Strip through the Ramallah-based PA government. Senior Hamas official Hussam Badran said that although his movement and Qatar made the offer, it was turned down by the PA.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that there is higher supervision over where the money is going to, now that Qatar is transferring it, than when the Palestinian Authority did so.

The prime minister justified allowing the transfer of the money, by saying that there is a humanitarian problem in Gaza that also impacts Israel. One example is the sewage that is starting to flow from Gaza into Ashkelon. The question, he asked, was how to deal with the humanitarian problem, and with what money should Israel confront this problem.

Netanyahu said that Israel demanded, and received, close supervision of who gets the money, including the signatures and fingerprints of everyone who will receive the funds.
“That way we know where the money goes,” he said.

Netanyahu added that Abbas decided to separate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip, and that Israel had no choice but to allow in the funds in order to prevent a humanitarian disaster.

Munir al-Jaghoub, a senior Fatah official in the West Bank, criticized the way the Qatari money was being delivered to the Gaza Strip. The money, he said, should be transferred through the PLO, the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.” The Qatari funds were going to Hamas and not to the Palestinian people, and this is unfortunate, he added.

The Fatah official claimed that the Qatari financial aid was part of an Israeli and American plan to “separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and Jerusalem.” He also claimed that the Qatari aid came in the context of normalization between Israel and the Arab countries.

Deposed Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan accused Qatar of furthering divisions among the Palestinians.

In an interview with Al-Hadath, a television news channel based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dahlan, who was expelled from Fatah seven years ago after falling out with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his two sons, said that Qatar has not supported the Palestinian people, but rather specific Palestinian factions.

“The Qatari money is being paid to Hamas through the Israeli Defense Ministry,” said Dahlan, who lives in the UAE and who has been accused by the PA of financial corruption and murder.

“Qatar carries suitcases and hands them over to the Israeli Defense Ministry. Then the Qatari ambassador carries the suitcases and travels with them to the Erez border crossing, where he delivers the money. I can probably understand Hamas’s need for money. But the Qatari envoy thinks that the Palestinian people are starving and waiting for his charity. He lives in Tel Aviv and thinks he’s doing something great. If Qatar wants reconciliation among the Palestinians, it should not behave this way.”

Dahlan, who previously served as a security commander in the Gaza Strip, pointed out that Qatar’s financial aid to the Palestinians has been very limited. In the past nine years, he said, Qatar gave the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) only $5 million. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has given UNRWA $832 million since 2009, while the UAE contributed $231 million during the same period.

“Qatar is a small country, and I respect the Qatari people, but I have no respect for the Qatari government, which supports terrorist groups,” Dahlan said. He also lashed out at Abbas, holding him primarily responsible for the ongoing dispute between Fatah and Hamas.

Abbas, he said, is no longer in charge because the Israeli Civil Administration is responsible for everything in the West Bank. “All he can do is travel from his office in Ramallah to Jordan,” Dahlan said. “Abbas has harmed the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in a way that even Israel hasn’t. He has halted salaries to families of martyrs and prisoners, as well as to employees.”

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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