Israel allows a Qatari-donated fuel shipment to enter Gaza

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to reporters, in a press announcement regarding the appointment of Israel’s new Bank Governor, Professor Amir Yaron. During a Q&A that followed the initial statements by Israel’s Finance Minister and the Premier, Netanyahu answered a question about the challenges the Jewish State faces on its southern, Gaza frontier. According to him, “with regard to the situation in Gaza, look…we are trying to realize a solution that will return the quiet and security to the villages surrounding the Gaza strip. / I think that also they understand that if a conflict is sparked the price that they will pay will be very heavy, I say this with accountability, very high. Therefore, we don’t want this situation, a situation that can be described as a situation of ‘low leveled friction’, to continue and we are working on ending this.” Netanyahu emphasized that while Jerusalem is not eager to go to war, if left with no other option, it will exhaust all the means at its disposal. Nevertheless, the Israeli Prime Minister underscored Israel’s ongoing attempts to bring about a practical solution, through a series of measures to alleviate the humanitarian pressure across the Gaza Strip, including the financial distress of the enclave’s civilian population. In his words, “There are attempts to establish a practical solution, that will thwart these pressures and difficulties. I think we need to exhaust this option, and I do this unrelated to criticism, I continually seek to reach a solution that will bring back quiet and stability. I am not eager to enter needless war’s, but when at war, you fight with all your power. But when there is an alternative, and there are additional considerations, additional fronts and additional challenges, I think my course of action, the one the [Israeli] Cabinet supports, is the correct one.” While Netanyahu did not specifically refer to the parties involved vis-à-vis the Gaza talks, the Israeli leader took the opportunity to lay the blame for the latest escalation on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who according to Netanyahu, ‘has choked the Gaza Strip in a series of sanctions that have crippled the enclave’s economy.’ “How was this situation created? Because Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) has choked them off, economically. Then they lash out at Israel, but due to their fear they only lash out partially. We are unwilling to accept this situation, and they [the Palestinians] know it,” said the Israeli Prime Minister. As part of Israel’s efforts to ease the economic pressures in the Hamas-run territory, Jerusalem allowed a number of fuel trucks to cross into the Gaza Strip. The U.N. operated trucks that entered Gaza brought the first delivery out of a 60 million dollars fuel donation by Qatar, meant to provide the Palestinian enclave’s power plant with enough fuel to operate for six months. The fuel delivery, however, has infuriated the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, as it thwarts its efforts to “financially choke” its bitter rival, the Islamist Hamas organization. A spokesman for the Abbas-appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who is based in the West Bank city of Ramallah, has voiced disapproval of the fuel delivery to Gaza. Palestinian government spokesman Ahmad Shami said, “On that note the Palestinian government affirms that any international financial aid to the Gaza strip should be threw or with the coordination of the government, in order to preserve the Palestinian unity and political decision in addition to stop any attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause or to separate the Gaza strip from the West Bank.” In response to the Palestinian Authority’s anger over the transfer of fuel to Gaza, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz accused President Mahmoud Abbas, who has restricted Palestinian Authority funding to Gaza, of “seeking to make gains on two counts: by encouraging a conflict in which Israel will clobber Hamas and over which he will then be able to clobber Israel on the world stage”. Meanwhile, a Qatari official brushed-off the Palestinian Authority’s disapproval, underlining his country’s plans to help with Gaza’s power crisis “at the request of donor states in the United Nations, to prevent an escalation of the existing humanitarian disaster.”