Two days after another cease-fire was reached between Israel and Hamas, Qatar made the surprising announcement May 7 that it would be providing a generous aid package of $480 million to the Palestinians. According to the official announcement by the Qatari Foreign Ministry, the money will not be limited to salaries and special projects in the Gaza Strip. It will also include a grant of $300 million for the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank. This is the first time that Qatar is reaching out to the PA, or more precisely, getting a foot in the West Bank. It is also the first time that it has received a thank you from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for its help.
To date, Qatari aid was provided exclusively to Gaza in order to pay salaries to the Hamas bureaucracy and support needy families. This infuriated Israelis, who were sharply critical of what they considered paying protection money to Hamas. But the Qataris were also bothered by Gaza’s reliance on Qatari money. They thought that they had just climbed into bed with a very sick patient. In the end, however, national interests won the day.