Liberman and Bennett trade barbs over Qatari funds to Gaza

Bennett strongly criticized the transfer of $15m. to Gaza from Qatar, meant for humanitarian use and fuel, calling it mafia-style “protection money”.

Avigdor Liberman (L) Naftali Bennett (R) (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Avigdor Liberman (L) Naftali Bennett (R)
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett continued their longstanding spat on Sunday morning over who is more hawkish on Gaza.
Bennett strongly criticized the transfer of $15m. to Gaza from Qatar – meant for humanitarian use and fuel – calling it mafia-style “protection money” in an interview with KAN Bet.
“I said so in July already, when the defense minister and the Qataris were negotiating,” Bennett argued. “You may be buying quiet for a short time, but you are getting the other side used to being able to use violence to advance its interests.”
Qatari envoy’s convoy stoned during a tour at Gaza border protest venue, November 11, 2018 (Reuters)
The minister said he fought the move as much as he could, but he was outvoted in the security cabinet.
“I presented an opposite idea,” he added. “For 10 months, I said we need to kill any terrorist that launches an incendiary balloon and approaches the fence.”
Liberman responded on twitter, saying that “either Bennett suffers from memory loss, or he is simply lying.”
“Unlike me, when I adamantly opposed an arrangement with Hamas and especially the transfer of funds, Bennett supported the funds and the Qatari fuel in the first place, and suggested letting 5,000 workers from Gaza into Israel,” Liberman wrote. “Bennett opposed every military action against Hamas, and the responsibility for the protection money is on him and his party.”
According to Liberman, he was the only minister who opposed transferring funds to Hamas in a security cabinet meeting two weeks ago. The meetings are held confidentially; press is not allowed in, and transcripts are not made publicly available.
Liberman and Bennett have been publicly trading barbs over Gaza policies for several months.
Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Gallant criticized his fellow security cabinet members, saying “the political chatter on security topics harms us and it should stop. If we fight, we don’t stutter. Before starting a war, we have to wear out all other options. We can strike Hamas with all our might, but we should see war as the last possibility.”
Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, a member of the Knesset and Foreign Affairs Committee, said the ministers were irresponsible.
“The defense minister says he opposes steps capitulating to Hamas, but continues being defense minister,” Shelah said. “Minister Bennett also opposes, but continues being a member of the security cabinet. And the prime minister? He didn’t know. He didn’t know anything.”