Qatar plans to transfer $480 million to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to alleviate the economic crisis in both areas, the country’s Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday.Some $300 million in grants and loans will be given toward the Palestinian Authority's budget for health and education. The remaining $180 million is earmarked for UN programs and to help provide electricity for Gaza.Thanks to PA sanctions against Hamas, Gazans were subsisting on four hours of electricity a day. In the fall, Qatar began paying for fuel, bringing the number of available hours of electricity to 12 hours a day. But those funds will run out in June.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh praised the Qatari decision and said the $480m. will contribute to solving some of the problems created by Israel’s deduction of payments made by the PA to families of prisoners and “martyrs” from tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.
Shtayyeh said that the Qatari funds to the PA include $300m., of which $50m. is a grant. The remainder of the funds will be directed to the PA budget in installments of $21m. per month, in addition to $180m. in humanitarian aid that will be managed by the Qatar Charity Foundation operating in the Gaza Strip, he added.
Hussein al-Sheikh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said that Qatar’s decision came as a result of a visit by a Palestinian delegation to Doha.
Sheikh said that he and PA Finance Minister Shukri Bishara recently visited Qatar at the request of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. During the meeting, he said, the two sides agreed on the Qatari grant to the Palestinians.
“This support comes to reflect the bonds of brotherhood and the ties of Arabism and religion between the Qatari and Palestinian peoples,” the Qatari Foreign Ministry said.
The funds, it said, were “in order to help the brotherly Palestinian people to obtain their necessary life needs in the difficult circumstances imposed by the Israeli occupation forces, and the decline in the international humanitarian support provided to them.”
It called on the international community to similarly make contributions to the Palestinians so they can “overcome the humanitarian crisis they face.”
“The State of Qatar also reiterates its full commitment to stand by the brotherly Palestinian people for all their legitimate rights,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Hamas issued a statement from its political leader Ismail Haniyeh thanking Qatar.
“This honorable decision is a continuation of the unwavering Qatari stances that support the Palestinian people politically and financially, in addition to defending Palestinian rights on international platforms,” wrote Haniyeh.