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

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.


Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

Updated 54 min 48 sec ago

Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

  • Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa

AMMAN: Jordan has stepped up its diplomatic pressure on Israel, demanding that they do not change the status quo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Zaid Lozi, director-general of Jordan’s Foreign Ministry, summoned Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod to protest Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.

According to Petra News, Lozi told the envoy that recent remarks by Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Ardan over changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque are unacceptable. Lozi added that the mosque is a place of worship for Muslims only.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi addressed a group of EU ambassadors in Amman and “stressed the urgency of effective international steps against Israel’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied Jerusalem.”

Safadi told Arab News that the situation in Jerusalem is challenging and must be addressed. He said that he will present a detailed report on Jordan’s position to Parliament on Monday.

The ministry denounced the Israeli authorities’ closure of the mosque’s gates and demanded that Israel respects its obligations in accordance with international humanitarian law.

HIGHLIGHT

• Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, told Arab News that Israeli authorities had been attempting to enforce major changes at the mosque.

“Security forces barged into the mosque yesterday. They went to the Bab Al-Rahmeh Mosque where they confiscated carpets and the closet where shoes are kept.”

Jordan’s diplomatic statements follow comments by Ardan, who said that Israel is disappointed with the current state of affairs at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Israeli officials, the mosque area is sovereign Israeli territory, despite it being administered by Jordan. Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Qader said that Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa.

“There appears to have been a gradual deterioration of Arab and Islamic support to Jordan. It surprises me that Muslims have been quiet, perhaps they see an advantage if Jordan’s role is diminished? If true, this would be dangerous.”

Qader, a former minister in the Palestinian government and a current member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Arab News that Jordan’s position “guarantees continuation of the status quo.”