Prior to the 11-day Gaza war, Qatar had provided $30 million in cash payments to Hamas controlled bodies in Gaza for distribution as $100 cash grants to needy families.
Money(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Hamas must no longer receive cash-filled suitcases, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the cabinet Sunday, ahead of a special donor meeting on Palestinian humanitarian assistance, including the Gaza Strip, scheduled for Tuesday.
“We are also working on a solution that will allow humanitarian assistance to the residents of Gaza, but without suitcases full of dollars,” he said. “Suitcases full of dollars are something we inherited, and they need to be done away with.”
Prior to the 11-day Gaza war in May, Qatar provided $30 million in cash payments to Hamas-controlled bodies in the Gaza Strip for distribution as $100 cash grants to needy families.
Yahye Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza, has called for the resumption of those payments and warned of a resumption of violence without them.
Israel is loath to allow money back into Gaza out of concern that it will be diverted to Hamas for military purposes.
Reports of a deal by which the United Nations would oversee the cash payments to insure that they were not used for Hamas terrorist attacks has not been verified.
Last Thursday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland met with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. They discussed the delivery of aid for the Palestinian people, according to the Qatari Foreign Ministry.
Also at issue is the full reopening of Gaza’s main commercial crossing at Kerem Shalom, which is controlled by Israel.
In the aftermath of the Gaza war, known as Guardian of the Walls, Israel has halted the entry of dual-use items necessary for civilian reconstruction pending the creation of a mechanism to prevent Hamas from seizing the material for its attack tunnels.
Israel has also linked the full reopening of the crossings with Hamas returning the remains of the two soldiers presumed killed during Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 Gaza war, and two Israeli civilians held captive there.
Egyptian-brokered indirect talks between Israel and Hamas for a permanent ceasefire that would include issues of humanitarian aid and the hostages have not yet yielded results. The UN, which oversees the bulk of the humanitarian aid to Gaza, is also involved in the talks, particularly Wennesland.
The issue of Gaza aid is also expected to be raised at Tuesday’s virtual Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting, which oversees donor funding to the Palestinians.
The AHLC typically meets twice a year, in the spring and on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. This year, the 15-member body, which includes representatives from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the US and the UN, is holding a special virtual meeting on Gaza.
The UN is expected to present a needs assessment report for Gaza at the meeting.
At the UN in New York last Thursday, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said, “I join the appeals to Israel to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials into Gaza.”
“I also urge Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza to refrain from attacks and provocations that would again destabilize the situation,” she said.
“We must avoid short-term fixes and focus on how we can work toward resolving the deadlock in Gaza and the Palestinian divide. Sustaining ceasefires and improving arrangements on the ground are important elements of UN preventive diplomacy, which aims to create space for political action,” DiCarlo said.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.