Bennett Denies Report He Will Reauthorize Cash Transfers to Gaza

YERUSHALAYIM -
Palestinians arrive to receive cash dole from Qatar to poor families, at a post office in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, in Feb. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Sources said Sunday that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is considering reauthorizing transferring Qatari aid to Gaza in cash.

The move came after the Palestinian Authority backed out of a deal to transfer the funds to Hamas official out of fear of being subjected to lawsuits of aiding a terror group. Security officials estimate that if Hamas officials don’t receive the money soon, they will reignite violence on the southern border.

Hamas on Saturday castigated the PA over its decision to renege on a deal that would have seen Ramallah oversee the transfer of Qatari aid funds to the Gaza Strip, saying the PA was interested in “prolonging the siege on Gaza.”

Qatari envoy to Gaza Mohammed al-Emadi, said that the PA’s announcement came through its banks in the coastal enclave as the Gulf state was preparing to transfer funds to civil servants and poor families in the coming days.

Doha began providing Gaza with cash assistance two years ago. The controversial campaign, dubbed “cash-for-calm policy” by its critics, kicked off in July 2019 when Doha pledged $480 million in aid to Yehudah, Shomron and Gaza. According to Palestinian reports, in 2020, Qatar handed out some $240 million. In January, Doha said its annual aid to the Palestinians would stand at $360 million.

So far, all payments were made in cash and delivered by Qatari envoys.

The cash deliveries were suspended in May when Israel and Hamas engaged in an 11-day conflict.

Hamas has threatened renewed violence against Israel unless the payments are restarted, but Israel had demanded that the cash payments be replaced with regulated wire transfers, to better ensure the funds are used to pay functionaries and the needy in Gaza, rather than be funneled to terrorist activity.

Egypt, which leads the indirect ceasefire talks between the Jewish state and the terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip, backed the demand and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had originally agreed to it as well.

“The PA’s games have become transparent and are meant to put pressure on our people and undermine their steadfast stand. This is a non-national step, which comes at a time when our people are gathering behind the issue of prisoners,” Qanou said.

He added that “the PA must shoulder its responsibility for the Gaza Strip and cease its racist actions towards it.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office denied the report, saying that “the government is working on a solution that would provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, but it will not include suitcases full of dollars.

“These transfers of cash are something we inherited and must end once and for all.”

Yet, despite Bennett’s position, it appears the government will find no alternative but to resume the suitcase deliveries.