Report: Palestinians Veto Vouchers for Gaza

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Palestinian Authority has vetoed a proposal for the United Nations to oversee the transfer of Qatari subsidies for impoverished Gazans in the form of a voucher system, according to a report in the Qatar-linked news site Arabi 21.

Israel wants foreign aid to Gaza disbursed through vouchers as a safeguard against donations being diverted to bolster the Palestinian enclave’s Hamas rulers and their arsenal, Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev said on Tuesday.

“The Qatari money for Gaza will not go in as suitcases full of dollars which end up with Hamas, where Hamas in essence takes for itself and its officials a significant part of it,” he told Army Radio.

According to the Arab 21 report, Israel, the U.S. and Hamas have all agreed to an unspecified mechanism for allowing Qatari funding to the Strip through the United Nations, but the PA torpedoed it.

“The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah rejected this mechanism, and that has hindered the entry of these funds so far,” a source told Arabi 21. “All attempts to persuade the PA leadership to accommodate the new mechanism have failed.”

Qatar bankrolled more than $1 billion worth of construction and other projects in Gaza, some of it in cash, after a war in 2014. The payments were monitored and approved by Israel, and Doha pledged another $500 million in late May.

Barlev said Bennett envisaged “a mechanism where what will go in, in essence, would be food vouchers, or vouchers for humanitarian aid, and not cash that can be taken and used for developing weaponry to be wielded against the State of Israel.”