Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is apparently considering reauthorizing cash transfers to the Gaza Strip after the Palestinian Authority (PA) backed out of an agreement to supply Qatari aid to Hamas officials, sources familiar with the matter said on Sunday.
Bennett's alleged change of heart stems from difficulty finding a cashless aid mechanism since banks fear being exposed to lawsuits for funding and aiding terrorism.
Qatar's envoy to the Gaza Strip Mohammed Al-Emadi said Friday the PA had withdrawn from the agreement "due to fears of legal prosecution and allegations that banks were 'supporting terrorism'". Hamas is designated a terrorist group in the West.
However, the Prime Minister's Office said that other alternatives that would guarantee the money will not be used to fund terrorist activity are being considered and that a cash-based mechanism will not be reinstated.
Security officials estimate that Hamas will escalate tensions along the border with Israel if the money is not transferred to Gaza soon. As of Sunday evening, no decision has been made on the issue but one is expected in the upcoming days.
A potential reauthorization of a cash-based transfer scheme to Gaza will come in violation of Bennett's past promises to bring an end to the practice for good.
The Gulf state and the United Nations struck an agreement on a three-tier cashless aid scheme to the Gaza Strip last month.
The first step of the deal would have included the distribution of monthly stipends to thousands of impoverished Gaza families to the tune of $10 million which would have been transferred directly to banks in the Palestinian enclave.
The second step would have allowed the purchase of $10-million worth of gas from an Israeli company in order to operate Gaza's power station.
The third part of the agreement, which is its sticking point, would have facilitated the payment of salaries to thousands of civil servants on Hamas payroll — including teaching staff, doctors and sanitation workers — estimated at a total cost of an additional $10 million.