UN expects Qatar to continue to deliver aid to Gaza in 2020, says diplomat

UN expects Qatar to continue to deliver aid to Gaza in 2020, says diplomat

Jamie McGoldrick says Doha’s support for projects in coastal enclave has been ‘critical’ to improving humanitarian situation in the territory

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinians rally in support of Qatar at a Qatari-funded housing project in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis on June 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)
Palestinians rally in support of Qatar at a Qatari-funded housing project in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis on June 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

The United Nations expects that Qatar will continue to provide funds to support aid projects in the Gaza Strip in 2020, Jamie McGoldrick, the international body’s deputy special coordinator to the Middle East peace process, said on Wednesday.

The senior UN diplomat made the comment a day after al-Akhbar, a pro-Hezbollah newspaper based in Lebanon, cited unnamed sources in the Hamas terror group as saying that Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi had informed members of the Palestinian factions in late October of the “difficulty of renewing the [Qatari] grant” to Gaza, starting at the beginning of 2020.

“From what I have heard, Qatar has not committed its budget for Gaza for 2020 yet,” McGoldrick told The Times of Israel. “But we expect [its] support to continue into Gaza.”

In the past year, Qatar has provided tens of millions of dollars to the coastal enclave for fuel to run the territory’s sole power plant, small grants for impoverished Palestinian families, a UN-supervised temporary employment program, and other projects.

According to Hamas sources who spoke to al-Akhbar, the Qatari grant has amounted to $30 million in aid to Gaza monthly.

Hamas officials have said that Qatar agreed to provide the funds to Gaza as part of unofficial ceasefire understandings between Israel and terror groups in the Strip.

McGoldrick added that Doha’s support for Gaza has played a key role in improving the humanitarian situation there.

“Their contributions, in particular for improving the energy situation and creating temporary employment, have been critical to improving the overall situation on the ground and alleviating the dire conditions,” he said.

UN Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Jamie McGoldrick in his Jerusalem office, October 31, 2018 (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Emadi has said that Qatar closely coordinates the entry of its aid to Gaza with Israel.

Fifty-three percent of Palestinians in Gaza live in poverty, a June 2018 United Nations report said. Eighty percent depend on international aid, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency, the main international organization that provides health, education and other services to Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

A spokesman for Qatar’s Gaza Reconstruction Committee, which Emadi heads, declined to comment on the al-Akhbar report.

A senior official in one of the Palestinian factions in Gaza did not respond to a request for comment.

The al-Akhbar report also quoted the Hamas sources as stating that the terror group’s leadership “is relying on renewing the [Qatari] grant through contacts with Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani,” adding that the failure to do so would mean “going to an explosion in the face of the Israeli occupation, the first and last party responsible for the siege on Gaza.”

Israel maintains a series of restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza. Israeli officials argues that the limitations on movement seek to prevent terror groups in the territory, sworn to Israel’s destruction, from gaining access to weapons or the means to build them.

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