UN agrees to take over distribution of Qatari funds in Gaza — report

Palestinian newspaper says both Israel and Hamas okay with move, quotes sources saying funds won’t go through banks controlled by Gaza-ruling terror group

Palestinians receive their financial aid as part of $480 million in aid allocated by Qatar, at a post office in Gaza City on May 19, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinians receive their financial aid as part of funds allocated by Qatar, at a post office in Gaza City on May 19, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The United Nations has agreed to take responsibility for the disbursement of Qatari funds in the Gaza Strip, according to a Palestinian newspaper report Sunday.

Quoting unnamed Palestinian sources, the Al-Quds daily said Israel was on board with the move as long as the flow of the money was monitored to ensure it was not diverted to the Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip and openly seeks Israel’s demise.

Sources close to Hamas were quoted saying the terror group had no objections to such a step as long as the cash is distributed.

Tor Wennesland, the UN’s Middle East peace envoy, held recent meetings in Israel and Qatar during which he reportedly said the world body would agree to divvy out the money from the Gulf emirate.

The funds will be routed through the Palestinian Monetary Authority in Ramallah, the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority’s seat of government, and not through banks or post offices controlled by Hamas, according to the Palestinian sources.

The report came after Israeli fighter jets struck Hamas sites in Gaza late Saturday after a balloon-borne incendiary device launched from the Strip sparked a fire in southern Israel.

Illustrative: Defense Minister Benny Gantz (R) meets with United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland on April 26, 2021. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

With Israel’s approval, Qatar has in recent years distributed hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to enable Hamas to pay for fuel for Gaza’s power plant, pay civil servants and provide aid to tens of thousands of impoverished families.

However, the Qatari payments have not resumed since the 11-day military conflict between the Israeli military and Gaza-based terrorists in May, with Israel refusing to allow the money into the Strip until Hamas releases two civilians and two bodies of IDF soldiers that it has been holding captive.

Egypt also opposed restarting the Qatari payments, insisting that a new mechanism be used to transfer them to Gaza so that they do not reach Hamas.

Meanwhile, the Walla news site reported Sunday that around 20 tanker trucks carrying fuel were set to enter Gaza through the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel. The report said 60 fuel trucks in total were expected to enter the Strip this week with fuel for Gaza’s only power station.

Israel last week allowed Qatar-funded gasoline shipments into Gaza for the first time since time since the fighting in May.

A fuel truck with a Qatari flag enters the Nusseirat power plant, in the central Gaza Strip, June 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Also last week, Hebrew media reports said that Egyptian-mediated talks in Cairo for a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas had failed to yield progress. Israel is conditioning large-scale reconstruction of Gaza on Hamas releasing the civilian captives — Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed — and bodies of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in combat in the Strip during the 2014 war.

Talks in Egypt were expected to resume this week.

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