A senior Qatari official overseeing reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip has told Al Jazeera that he believes the Trump administration has “nothing to offer” the West Bank, and is focusing its efforts on the blockaded enclave.
Mohammed al-Emadi, director of a Gaza reconstruction committee set up by the Qatari government “to administer a $407m grant from Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani to rebuild Gaza’s destroyed infrastructure in 2012”, addressed a number of issues in the interview published Tuesday.
Asked about a recent visit to Doha by senior White House officials Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, al-Emadi said the pair “proposed projects inside Gaza” such as “electricity projects, water projects, creating jobs, easy access, [and] 5G internet”.
The Qataris, for their part, told the Americans that “for these projects to work, you need the Israelis to agree on them”, and “the problem here is that the Israelis are saying they will only deal with the PA [Palestinian Authority], not any other third party”.
Pressed as to why the US was looking to help Gaza – and whether it was part of the so-called ‘deal of the century’ – al-Emadi replied: “As a personal opinion, I think Gaza has the power now. The Americans are thinking that they must solve the problems in Gaza first then go to the West Bank”.
“As far as the West Bank, they have nothing to offer. They do not have anything to offer there in terms of development. Therefore, Gaza is very important. In addition, Gaza has military power and a deterrent doctrine. The number of rockets that Hamas has now is probably 50 times more than what they had in 2014”.
According to al-Emadi, “the trust between Hamas and Egypt is lost”, whereas “Qatar is credible with both sides [Hamas and Israel] and is respected because of that”. However, he added, the Egyptians “have a strong position because they control the border with Gaza and without them, you cannot achieve anything”.
Al-Emadi described the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip as “very bad”, noting that “the economy is going down because of the lack of cash and investments”.
“Previously, things were a little better because the Palestinian Authority paid the salaries of its Gaza government employees and social services to the tune of over $100m – in addition to UNRWA that brought around $20m. The PA has cut its payout to Gaza employees and UNRWA has scaled back its funding and spending, which made the economic situation worse”.