Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh urged Palestinians Monday not to blame Israeli Arabs for the recapture of four of the six prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison last week.
“We’re one people, and a single goal unites us,” he said at the start of the Palestinian Authority’s cabinet meeting, commenting on media reports that Israeli Arabs had informed police of the escapees’ presence in their towns. “I urge the public not to cast aspersions on our brethren,” he said, adding: “The occupation authorities are trying to divide us from our brothers, and we need to strengthen the connection.”
In addition, he urged the United Nations to monitor the situation of the recaptured prisoners and ensure that they aren’t tortured.
Shtayyeh also responded to a Qatari envoy’s announcement this weekend that the PA had backtracked on an agreement to have Palestinian banks transfer Qatar money to Hamas’ civil servants in the Gaza Strip. The PA claimed that this could expose the banks to lawsuits for financing terrorism.
The PA, Shtayyeh said, “is willing to discuss any proposal to solve the problem.”
The Qatari grant to Gaza will total $30 million, he said, including $10 million for civil servants’ salaries, $10 million for fuel for Gaza’s power plant and $10 million for needy families. The money is set to be transferred later this week.
Commenting on Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s proposal Sunday of a two-stage reconstruction of the Strip, Shtayyeh said, “Gaza’s problem is political. It’s the problem of all the Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem,” he said.
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“What’s needed is a genuine, political program based on the international community’s decisions to end the occupation and the siege of Gaza,” he added. “That will make the work of reconstructing Gaza possible.”
Under Lapid’s “economy for security” plan, the initial stage would involve projects like improving Gaza’s electric grid, building a desalination plant and improving health services in exchange for long-term quiet on Hamas’ part. The second stage involves a more extensive economic program, including constructing an artificial island off Gaza’s coast to house a port, securing international investment and promoting joint economic projects for Gaza with Israel, Egypt and the PA.