Liberman: No Decision Yet on Expulsion of UN Envoy
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Sunday that a final decision has yet to be made on his threat to expel the UN's envoy to the Middle East for offering to help transfer Qatari funds to Gaza, AFP reported.
On Saturday, Channel 2 News reported that Liberman intends to declare envoy Robert Serry persona non grata, the most serious form of censure which a country can apply to foreign diplomats.
According to that report, the Foreign Ministry had received information according to which Serry is attempting to transfer millions of dollars to Hamas. Serry reportedly asked Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to transfer $20 million from Qatar to Gaza – a request Abbas turned down.
He then asked Israel to be the middleman in the transfer, a request that, unsurprisingly, was also met with refusal. Finally, reported Channel 2, he offered that the UN take the money from Qatar and give it to Hamas.
Liberman had told AFP he would chair an emergency meeting Sunday during which "tough measures" would be imposed against Serry.
But his ministry's spokesman Yigal Palmor said later that "no decision was taken at the meeting."
Serry has rejected the allegations, saying in a statement that the Palestinian Authority had approached him "informally" on the matter.
"In considering any UN role on the issue of payments of salaries in Gaza that has potentially destabilizing effects on security in Gaza, I made it clear that we would only be able to be of assistance if acceptable to all stakeholders, including Israel," he added, according to AFP.
Israel had been kept informed of all the discussions, he insisted.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opposes the transfer of money to Gaza from Qatar, and made this clear to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a telephone conversation between the two on Saturday.
Serry criticized Israel's large-scale operation in Judea and Samaria on Friday. While Serry called for the release of the three teenagers abducted by Hamas, he expressed “deep concern” over Israel’s arrest of wanted terrorists.