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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Israel blocks direct entry of Qatari aid to Gaza: reports

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The Palestinian prime minister commended Qatar’s position regarding the Deal of the Century, saying it paid a “great price” for its stance.

Israel has changed the way in which Qatar’s monetary aid to Gaza enters the Strip, according to local Palestinian and Israeli media.

According to the reports, millions worth of aid from Qatar was supposed to reach the besieged Gaza Strip this week though no updates have been confirmed. Israel is now demanding the Gulf state directly deposits all donations to the Palestinian Authority or international organisations.

Following the latest 11-day Israeli bombardment on Gaza, Defence Minister Benny Gantz called for improving the transfer of money to the Strip while closely monitoring the way it is being spent.

The latest developments come as reports suggest Tel Aviv has refused to allow Qatari aid into the besieged seaside territory over claims that it will go towards Hamas, which it views as a terrorist organisation.

Hamas responded by threatening to restart the Great March of Return if the aid does not enter Gaza by next week.

Read also: Hamas warns of mass border protests if Israel blocks Qatar aid into Gaza

Earlier this year, Qatar pledged some $360 million in financial assistance to the besieged Gaza Strip for the year 2021. The aid is to be used to pay salaries, help families in need, and contribute to a power station as Gaza continues to suffer from stifling living conditions, including an ongoing electricity crisis, imposed by the Israeli occupation.

To respond to the latest brutal offensive, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani pledged an additional $500 million dollars to help rebuild the Strip.

In an interview with Qatar News Agency [QNA] this week, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh noted that Qatar is an “important and fundamental” supporter of the Palestinian cause on a political, moral and material level.

He added that Qatar has provided the Gaza Strip in past years with more than $1.6 billion, all of which has significantly supported Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

“All forms of aid” support Palestinians by creating job opportunities, strengthening infrastructure and helping families in need, he added.

Qatar-Palestine ties

Shtayyeh also commended Qatar for its position against the so-called US ‘Deal of the Century’, saying Doha paid “a great price for its stance” in supporting Palestinians.

“We know that Qatar paid a great price in standing against the Deal of the Century and supporting the Palestinian cause, and we know the extent of the pressure it was subjected to for standing with the Palestinian issues against the annexation of Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and the Deal of the Century,” he told QNA during a trip to the Gulf state on Monday.

On his visit to Qatar, Shtayyeh said he sought consultation with Qatari leadership on ways “to fill the political vacuum” in the Palestinian cause and to work towards a “peace process” based on international law and legitimacy.

Read also: Sheikh Tamim meets Palestinian PM Shtayyeh in Qatar

“Qatar was one of the first countries to recognise Palestine, and the Palestinian community in Doha is old and enjoys full care, so we aim to continue to develop [the countries’ bilateral ties],” he said.

His visit came weeks after a Qatar and Egypt-brokered ceasefire was imposed to bring to an end an 11-day indiscriminate bombing of Gaza by Israeli forces.

The attacks will be raised at the International Criminal Court [ICC], the Palestinian official said, adding that three major international files were submitted to the top court.

These include the file of prisoners, the aggression on Gaza in 2014 and the most recent bombardment, as well as the illegal establishment of Jewish settlements.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian official said Qatar played a crucial role in helping to reach an agreement over this year’s Palestinian elections, which were scheduled to take place in May and July until they were postponed by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas said that Israel’s delayed response to allow elections to take place in East Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and Gaza, pushed him to postpone the vote.

“The elections are postponed until the new Israeli government is formed and international and regional pressures are used to urge Israel to agree to the establishment of the elections,” Shttayeh explained.

He added that if Israel continues to pose an obstacle to the elections, Palestinian authorities will push for the completion of the electoral process, noting that the “democratic process makes everyone a decision-maker”.

When asked about the re-election of Abbas, Shtayyeh said that it is the Palestinian president’s decision, adding that he has a stable health condition and that he is “determined to conduct the electoral process and the Fatah movement is not afraid of the results”.

Read also: Palestinians back to ‘square one’ after election postponement: HBJ

Moreover, Shtayyeh said his latest visits to the region does not include countries that normalised ties with Israel, explaining that the issue with those nations is not only limited to Palestine, but also the Arab League, given that they have violated the Arab Peace Initiative.

Qatar has repeatedly expressed its commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative, refusing to normalise with Israel as long as it continues its illegal occupation of Palestine.

Hamas-Fatah reconciliation

When asked about the possibility of reaching a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, the Palestinian prime minister said that such success goes back to the willingness of sides to make concessions.

“The success of the national reconciliation relies on good intentions…those in the Central Committee of the Fatah movement and the government want this reconciliation to take place because this rift cannot continue,” said Shtayyeh.

“There is no peace or constructive negotiation without unity politically, administratively, and financially, and the Palestinian situation cannot be in a normal state without unity,” he added.

Fatah and Hamas were locked in a bitter war from 2006 until 2007, resulting in the killing of more than 600 Palestinians and the division of territories between the parties.

Hamas and Fatah have both engaged in several reconciliation attempts, though none have borne fruit. Progress was made last year when Hamas said it was ready to hold elections and resume dialogue.

However, the date of the delayed elections has yet to be announced.


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