Netanyahu defends Qatari cash infusion to Gaza

Netanyahu’s remarks late Saturday were his first on the issue since Israel allowed the cash to be transferred to the enclave controlled by Hamas. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 November 2018
0

Netanyahu defends Qatari cash infusion to Gaza

  • The Israeli-authorized money transfer appeared to be part of a deal that would see Hamas end months of often violent protests
  • Border protests have been much calmer the last two Fridays

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended his decision to enable Qatar to bring $15 million into Hamas-controlled Gaza for salaries, saying it would calm tensions and prevent a Palestinian humanitarian crisis.
Netanyahu’s remarks late Saturday were his first on the issue since Israel allowed the cash to be transferred to the enclave controlled by Hamas, considered not only by the Jewish state but also the United States and European Union as a terrorist movement.
“I’m doing what I can, in coordination with the security elements, to return quiet to the southern communities, but also to prevent a humanitarian crisis,” Netanyahu said, referring to Israeli towns near the Gaza border and deteriorating conditions in the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu said the Israeli security establishment supported the move and that ministers in his security cabinet approved it.
“We held serious discussions,” he said ahead of his flight to Paris, where he will join world leaders marking the centenary of the end of World War I.
“I think we’re acting in a responsible and wise way.”
He added: “At this time, this is the right step.”
On Friday, Palestinian civil servants began receiving payments after months of sporadic salary disbursements in cash-strapped Gaza, with money delivered into the Palestinian enclave through Israel, reportedly in suitcases.
The Israeli-authorized money transfer appeared to be part of a deal that would see Hamas end months of often violent protests along the border in exchange for Israel easing its blockade of Gaza.
Border protests have been much calmer the last two Fridays.
The money influx was criticized by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, which saw it as undermining reconciliation efforts with rivals Hamas and its attempts to return to power in the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu has also faced political pressure within Israel, including from opposition head Tzipi Livni, who called it the premier’s “submission to Hamas,” which would strengthen the Islamist movement.
Deadly clashes have accompanied the major protests along the Gaza border with Israel that began on March 30, generating fears of a new war between the Jewish state and the strip’s militant rulers.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008.
At least 221 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, the majority shot during protests and clashes, since the protests began.
Others have died in tank fire or air strikes.
One Israeli soldier has been killed along the Gaza border in that time.


Italy’s Salvini says France has no interest in stabilising Libya

Italy's Interior Minister and deputy PM Matteo Salvini said France has no interest in stabilising the situation in Libya. (AFP)
Updated 22 January 2019
0

Italy’s Salvini says France has no interest in stabilising Libya

  • The French say accusation is baseless and reiterated their efforts in Libya
  • Relations between Italy and France, traditionally close allies, have grown frosty since the far-right League and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement formed a coalition

ROME: Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, continuing a war of words between Rome and Paris, said on Tuesday that France was not looking to bring calm to violence-ravaged Libya because its energy interests there rivalled those of Italy.
Relations between Italy and France, traditionally close allies, have grown frosty since the far-right League and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement formed a coalition last year and took aim at pro-EU French President Emmanuel Macron.
France’s Foreign Ministry and the French president’s office declined to respond immediately.
On Monday France summoned Italy’s ambassador after Salvini’s fellow deputy prime minister, Luigi Di Maio, accused Paris of creating poverty in Africa and generating mass migration to Europe.
Salvini backed up Di Maio, saying France was looking to extract wealth from Africa rather than helping countries develop their own economies, and pointed particularly to Libya, which has been in turmoil since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that overthrew strongman Muammar Qaddafi.
“In Libya, France has no interest in stabilising the situation, probably because it has oil interests that are opposed to those of Italy,” Salvini told Canale 5 TV station.
A French diplomatic source said it was not the first time that Salvini had made such comments and that it was probably because he felt he had been upstaged by Di Maio.
The source added that the accusation was baseless and reiterated that French efforts in Libya were aimed at stabilising the country, preventing the spread of terrorism and curbing the migration flows.
Italy’s Eni and France’s Total have separate joint ventures in Libya, but Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi denied in a newspaper interview last year that there was any conflict between the two firms in the north African state.
Salvini is head of the League, while Di Maio leads 5-Star. Both are campaigning hard for European parliamentary elections in May and are eager to show they have broken with the consensual politics of center-left and center-right parties.
The two men have repeatedly targeted neighboring France and accused Macron of doing nothing to help handle the hundreds of thousands of mainly African migrants who have reached Italy from Libya in recent years.
Asked about the latest diplomatic spat with Paris, Salvini said on Tuesday: “France has no reason to get upset because it pushed away tens of thousands of migrants (at the French border), abandoning them there as though they were beasts. We won’t take any lessons on humanity from Macron.”