Waiting in line to recieve financial assistance from Qatar, in Gaza City. Photo: Al H.m. Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty
Qatar has informed Israel that it will suspend money transfers to Gaza next month because of Israel's pending plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Western diplomats briefed on the matter tell me.
Why it matters: Qatar transfers money to government employees and poor families in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, as part of an Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal. Suspension of the payments could lead to renewed violence.
- Qatar will not resume the payments until the situation around possible annexation becomes clearer, the sources say.
The backstory: Israel's government has been debating plans to annex up to 30% of the West Bank as soon as July 1, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping for a green light from the White House to proceed.
- Any unilateral Israeli annexations would be widely considered a violation of international law and fiercely opposed by the Palestinians, countries in the region including Jordan, as well as the European Union.
Behind the scenes: Qatar has conveyed its message through multiple channels over the past two week, including in a Zoom meeting of donor countries to the Palestinian Authority.
- The Qatari representative in the meeting stressed that any Israeli annexation step in the West Bank will have consequences.
- The Western diplomats said his message was directed at senior Israeli officials who were also on the Zoom meeting.
The bottom line: The Qataris are concerned that Israel will implement its annexation plans on July 1 — Netanyahu's deadline — and don’t want to be perceived as enabling Israeli annexation by sending money to keep the peace in Gaza.