After PA Backtracks, Israel Examining Alternatives for Transferring Qatari Funds to Hamas

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Palestinian street vendors display clothes for sale, Gaza, two months ago.
Palestinian street vendors display clothes for sale, Gaza, two months ago. Credit: Khalil Hamra / AP

Israel is considering new alternatives for transferring Qatari aid money to government officials in the Gaza Strip – chiefly Hamas members – after the Palestinian Authority backtracked on transferring it through its banks in the West Bank.

A statement from the Prime Minister's Office said that "The Defense Ministry is examining different alternatives" on Sunday. It added that "when an appropriate framework is found that guarantees that the money won't go to terror activities, it will be presented by the defense minister to the prime minister."

The past method of transferring the Qatari funds – which was in suitcases full of cash – "will not repeat itself," the statement said.

The statement comes after the Qatari envoy to Gaza, Mohammad al-Ammadi, said Friday that the Palestinian Authority walked back on its deal with the United Nations and Doha to pass the money to Hamas officials via Palestinian banks in the West Bank. 

The PA has expressed concern that its banks will be exposed to lawsuits alleging support for terrorism, as Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel and other Western countries.

Meanwhile, the United Nations' Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland said the organization will begin on Monday to distribute cash aid to thousands of poor families in Gaza under a program funded by Qatar.

Qatar has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Gaza since the 2014 war between the Palestinian enclave's Islamist Hamas rulers and Israel. But another round of fighting in May prompted Israeli and U.S. demands to revise the payouts to ensure they do not reach Hamas. They have since been on hold.

Cash will be given out at more than 700 distribution points throughout the Gaza Strip, a UN official said.

Nearly 100,000 beneficiaries will begin to receive the cash aid on Monday, Wennesland wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Officials did not say if or how the distribution points were being monitored to ensure the cash bypasses Hamas.

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