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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 March 2019

Qatar says it will no longer give controversial funds for Gaza electricity after April

The Gulf state has warned Hamas that it needs to make progress on infrastructure projects

Palestinian women, at a demonstration against chronic power cuts, demand better living conditions in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip, January 4, 2018. EPA
Palestinian women, at a demonstration against chronic power cuts, demand better living conditions in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip, January 4, 2018. EPA

Qatar has told Gaza's rulers Hamas that it will stop its monthly payments for the enclave's electricity bill, largely regarded as an attempt to buy Palestinians' silence for Israel, after April.

Doha's envoy to Gaza, Mohammad Al Emadi, told Hamas leaders that the Gulf state will not continue to fund power in the territory because Hamas was delaying work on infrastructure projects, Israeli media reported on Monday.

Th-e payments have been criticised by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gazan residents as a bid to buy Gaza's silence amid weekly mass protests against Israel’s siege of the territory.

The Qataris are seeking more progress on a power line from Israel into the strip that could double its power output.

But Hamas is reticent to accept resources that enter from Israel because it gives the country, with which it has fought three wars since 2008, the ability to cut power whenever it wants.

It appears that Doha is trying to pressure Hamas into going ahead with projects that come from Israel.

Qatar has been sending monthly instalments into Gaza through Israel but Palestinians in the enclave have criticised the money transfers using the hashtag "diesel and dollars".

The PA, which has limited self-rule in the West Bank, has been critical of the Qatari payments because it was left out of the deal by Doha and the Israelis, one of the first agreements around Gaza from which it has been sidelined since 2007.

The PA, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, remains locked in an internal Palestinian rivalry with Hamas.

Israel maintains a crippling siege on the Gaza Strip, preventing movement of people and goods in and out of the enclave and restricting its air and sea access.

The 12-year blockade has left the strip on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, with the UN warning that it will be unlivable by 2020.

Since March 30, Gazans have held mass weekly demonstrations against the siege. Israel has responded with sniper fire against largely peaceful protesters, killing more than 200 people in 10 months.

Israel has tried to stop the protests with force but some Gazans believe that they are now using Qatar to finance an end.

Updated: February 20, 2019 01:53 AM

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