In a strange geopolitical equation building up in the Middle East, Israel and the Palestinian Authority led by Fatah have teamed up to kick Qatar out of Gaza and choke Hamas by ridding its of its most crucial financier in the region. As per Jerusalem Post, Naftali Bennett, the Prime Minister of Israel, has insisted that “suitcases of cash” can no longer enter Gaza following the 11-day Gaza war in May. Prior to the Gaza war, Israel had allowed Qatar to pay the regular $30 million cash payments to Gaza, but things have changed after the war as both Israel and the Palestinian Authority want to cut Hamas of Qatari funding.
Therefore, Israel has created an ostensible arrangement with legitimate means for payment of Qatari money to Gaza. According to a source, the Jewish nation had approved a list of recipients and has also verified that none of the names on the list are terrorists but are teachers or engineers.
So, why is Qatari money not reaching Gaza? Well, here’s the real catch. The Palestinian Authority has been made the channel for payment of Qatari money into Gaza. However, the Palestinian Authority is very clear about one thing- it won’t pay salaries to anyone affiliated with Hamas.
At the end of the day, both Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will succeed in their goals if Qatari funding to Hamas is cut off. Israel itself would get rid of Hamas’ intermittent aggression, whereas Fatah would benefit by removing the biggest challenger to its status as the party leading the Palestinian Authority. Therefore, they are deliberately evading the responsibility of sending money to Gaza and they have jointly managed to keep Qatar at bay.
As for Israel, it is fed up with Qatar’s shady activities. The Middle East Kingdom is the biggest backer and ally of Hamas, and Israel has long accused Qatar of proving money to Hamas for rockets fired into Israel during hostilities. Indeed, $15 million have been paid every month by Qatar to impoverished Gazan civil servants, but it is not possible to verify if Hamas utilized these funds for the said purpose.
On its part, Qatar takes the excuse that it wants to help the people of Gaza but that Gazans can be helped only through Hamas which presently runs the Gaza region. No matter what Qatar has to say, it is not very difficult to understand its real agenda behind funding Hamas. Now, Israel is fed up of Qatar’s shady activities and wants to get rid of them.
On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has realised that Hamas poses a big threat to Fatah’s authority. Hamas may have suffered big losses during the 11-day Gaza war with Israel earlier this year, but it has made good political benefits within Israel. Hamas chief Ismail Haniya, for example, got re-elected for a four-year term following an unopposed internal election by the Hamas party members.
In fact, Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas got elections delayed in other Palestinian territories but it has been speculated that if the elections were held outside Gaza also, then the Fatah Party would have lost the polls and Hamas would have emerged as the single largest party. By waging the Gaza war, Hamas wanted to generate favourable sentiment towards itself, and take over the Palestinian Authority by removing all moderate elements like the Fatah Party.
Therefore, the Mahmoud Abbas-led Palestinian Authority has every reason to deny payment of Hamas salaries. Hamas, which presently runs Gaza, wants to foment trouble in Israel and replace the Fatah Party from the rest of Palestinian territories. However, things aren’t falling in place from Hamas.
As long as Fatah controls the Palestinian Authority, Bennett and Abbas will have a clear opportunity of extinguishing Hamas. They want to neutralise Hamas, even if it means turning Gaza into purely Israeli territory.
By blocking the inflow of Qatari money into Gaza, Israel can weaken the Gazan-Qatari ties and ultimately force Qatar out of Gaza, once and for all. This might as well prove to be the final nail in the coffin for Hamas, which is surviving solely on the basis of Qatari funding.