Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Sunday a final decision had yet to be made on his threat to expel the UN’s top Jerusalem-based peace envoy for seeking to help transfer Qatari funds to Gaza.
Liberman was reported to have said by Channel 2 television that he intended to declare Robert Serry persona non grata and expel him from Israel over the alleged effort.
Liberman had told AFP he would chair an emergency meeting Sunday during which “tough measures” would be imposed against Serry.
But Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said later that “no decision was taken at the meeting.”
The television report had quoted Liberman as saying that Serry, the UN’s special envoy on the Middle East peace process, had first tried to convince the Palestinian Authority to transfer $20 million from Qatar to resolve a pay crisis for Hamas employees in Gaza.
After Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refused to do so, he sought Israel’s help and was again rebuffed, the TV report said. Then, the right-wing Liberman reportedly said, Serry suggested the UN might help in making the transfer.
Serry rejected the allegations, saying in a statement that the Palestinian Authority had approached him “informally” on the matter.
“In considering any UN role on the issue of payments of salaries in Gaza that has potentially destabilizing effects on security in Gaza, I made it clear that we would only be able to be of assistance if acceptable to all stakeholders, including Israel,” he added.
Israel had been kept informed of all the discussions, he insisted.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the transfer of Qatari funds to Hamas, which he accuses of kidnapping three young Israelis in the West Bank on June 12, his office said.
Gas-rich Qatar said it would provide the funds to help the Palestinian unity government pay former employees of Islamist movement Hamas’s disbanded Gaza government.
Hamas and Fatah, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, reached an agreement in April paving the way for a unity government between the two sides.
Israel, which brands Hamas a terrorist organization, has denounced the unity government and voiced opposition to any Western dealing with the Palestinian cabinet.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.