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Qatar Threatens to Withhold Gaza Funds Over Prospective Israeli Annexations

Qatar has reportedly threatened to withhold funds earmarked for the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip if Israel presses ahead with annexing areas in the West Bank in accordance with the Trump Administration’s Middle East peace plan. Doha has transferred huge sums into the blockaded enclave over the past 18 months – including a reported $50 million last week – with a view to maintaining the relative calm between the Jewish state and Gaza’s Islamist rulers. The apparent development is being construed as a pressure tactic geared toward thwarting the prospective application of Israeli sovereignty over as much as 30% of the West Bank, which the Palestinians claim in its entirety as part of a future state. Other regional countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have similarly warned Israel against pressing ahead with the controversial move. Jordanian King Abdullah has gone so far as to suggest that he could abrogate the landmark 1994 peace treaty between Amman and Jerusalem. UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday also weighed in, describing any potential annexations as a “most serious violation of international law.” All of this comes on the backdrop of reports that US President Donald Trump will in the coming days make a final decision on whether to back Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s vow to begin implementing the project on July 1. While the US peace proposal envisions the eventual incorporation into Israel of all 132 Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, Netanyahu has reportedly resigned himself to proceeding in stages so long as Washington provides its blessing.