Palestinian Authority Backtracks on Transferring Aid Money to Hamas Officials, Qatari Envoy Says

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Qatari envoy to Gaza Mohammad al-Ammadi, last month.
Qatari envoy to Gaza Mohammad al-Ammadi, last month. Credit: MOHAMMED SALEM / REUTERS

Qatari envoy to Gaza Mohammad al-Ammadi said Friday that the Palestinian Authority had walked back on its deal with the United Nations and Doha to transfer Qatari aid to Hamas officials through Palestinian banks in the West Bank.

According to the agreement, the Qatari money would have been deposited in Palestinian Authority banks in the West Bank and could have been withdrawn in Gaza. The deal included paying stipends to government officials in the Gaza Strip, among them Hamas members.

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 another Western countries.

The understandings reached on transferring Qatari money to impoverished families in Gaza is still valid, and will be carried out through a UN mechanism next week.     

A tank truck raising Qatari flags transporting fuel for Gaza's sole power plant arrives at the Rafah crossing, June.Credit: SAID KHATIB / AFP

At the beginning of the week, al-Ammadi announced that the UN and the PA had reached a Qatari-mediated understanding on transferring the funds that were supposed to be used to pay the salaries of Hamas officials. This issue was a point of contention during talks that preceded the agreement.

Al-Ammadi said that all the parties will resume talks in coming days to resolve the disagreements.

Some of the Qatari money is supposed to be given to tens of thousands of officials appointed by Hamas to various ministries when it took control of Gaza in 2007. The Palestinian Authority did not recognize the legitimacy of these appointments, and because it didn't pay them salaries, Qatar has provided them with grants.

Last month, Palestinian sources reported on an effort to create a mechanism to replace the Palestinian banks in the West Bank, which have expressed concern over the possibility of lawsuits. The sources said that the banks could not withstand the expenses of such lawsuits. 

But on Friday, al-Ammadi said the PA had withdrawn from the agreement "due to fears of legal prosecution and accusations that banks were 'supporting terrorism.'" 

The Qatari funding scheme has won support from Israel, whose defense minister, Benny Gantz, said it would ensure money reached those in need while bypassing Hamas.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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