Qatar confirm that will no longer pay the Hamas salaries
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Qatar said on Saturday (Jan 26) it will no longer fund salaries of Hamas employees in Gaza but will still give aid to poor families, after the Palestinian enclave’s Islamist rulers refused to accept wage payments over conditions allegedly attached by Israel.
We “will not pay the salaries of the Hamas employees”, Qatar’s ambassador to the Gaza Strip Mohammed al-Emadi told AFP on Saturday.
An informal deal between Israel and Hamas in November had seen Qatar agree to send US$90 million (€80 million) through six monthly payments to Gaza, in exchange for relative calm along the Israeli border, which has been rocked by often violent Hamas-backed protests since March 2018.
The first two monthly payments of US$15 million were disbursed and went mainly to paying salaries of around 40,000 Hamas civil servants, while around a third of each monthly payment helped impoverished Gazans.
But the deal became a major bone of political contention in Israel – whose territory is used for delivery of the cash – and also in Gaza.
“The tension was very high on Hamas … internally and on the Israeli government the tension also was very high from the opposition,” Emadi told AFP in Gaza.
Emadi said his country would still donate the remaining US$60 million in aid it has committed, but mostly through United Nations programmes instead.
“Both sides are relieved now; totally relieved, and it is much better” this way, he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was criticised by political rivals over the deal.
Last week Israel’s premier temporarily blocked the funds after a flareup on the frontier.
He later relented but on Thursday Hamas refused to accept payment of salaries for its personnel, accusing Israel of changing the terms of the agreement.
Israel’s Hayom newspaper reported that Netanyahu had proposed funds be disbursed on Fridays – the day when protests along the border are invariably most intense – to dampen violence.
Source: Channel News Asia