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Friday, January 28, 2022

PA withdraws from Qatar funding scheme for Gaza over ‘legal concerns’


Qatar’s envoy to the Gaza Strip Mohammed Al-Emadi has confirmed that the Palestinian Authority has withdrawn from the funding agreements over legal concerns. 

Qatar’s aid envoy to Gaza Mohammed Al-Emadi has revealed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has withdrawn from an agreement to provide funding from Qatar to the Strip over concerns that its involvement could expose it to legal issues.

This comes after al-Emadi announced in August that an agreement had been reached “regarding the Qatari grant and the opening of the Gaza crossings in order to establish a state of calm and stability.”

‘A blow to the captors’: Social media users react to heroic Palestinian ‘prison break’ victory 

Under a memorandum of understanding signed between the Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee and the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland, Qatar pledged to allocate $40 million to support nearly 100,000 families in Gaza.

Al-Emadi had stated that Qatar would soon resume separate funding for civil servants and Gazan families in need under a new mechanism that involves the UN and the PA. Under the new mechanism, Qatar would transfer $100 per month to 100,000 Gazan families via the UN and Palestinian banks in the form of reloadable debit cards. Israel was set to oversee who receives these cards.

However, the Qatari envoy has since confirmed that the PA had withdrawn from the agreement “due to fears of legal prosecution and accusations that banks were ‘supporting terrorism’”.

Now, Qatar’s Gaza office is working to resolve the issue in a bid to find a different method to distribute the funding.

In response to the latest developments, Hamas said the PA’s move “reflects (its) desire to deepen the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip instead of contributing to a solution.”

Doha has taken responsibility for the rebuilding of the Gaza enclave since the 2014 war between the territory’s rulers Hamas and the occupying Israeli state. Having already pumped over $1 billion into Gaza projects since the conflict, the Gulf state pledged another $500 million in late May.

However, the 11-day May bombardment by Israel prompted a revision of the payouts. The aid transfer has since been on hold due Israel which demanded a change in the logistics of the money transfer over alleged concerns that the aid could reach Hamas, which it considers a “terror” organisation.

Israel and Egypt have held Gaza under a 16-year siege. More than 2 million Palestinians live in dire conditions due to an Israeli blockade on the Strip, described as the world’s largest open air prison.

Russia, Qatar see ‘eye to eye’ on Palestine

The latest developments come as Russia and Qatar have pushed for the re-ignition of Israeli-Palestinian talks for a comprehensive settlement, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“We saw eye to eye that as Israel’s relations with some Arab countries are being normalised, the Palestinian problem should not recede into the background. It is our principled position, which we alongside our Qatari and other Arab friends have consistently stood up for,” said Lavrov during a press conference on Saturday after talks with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

“We confirmed it is necessary to consolidate efforts for the restart of direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in order to resolve all the issues of final status and to achieve a comprehensive settlement,” the Russian official added.

Meanwhile in Palestine, four of the six Palestinians who broke out of the the high-security Israeli Gilboa prison on Monday have been rearrested by Israeli authorities.

The detainees at the facility were able to escape by digging a tunnel with a spoon underneath a cell toilet that allowed them to emerge outside of the gated walls where they then received outside assistance.

The fate of the remaining two escapees remains unclear.

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