Israel says no decision on threat to expel UN envoy

AFP , Sunday 22 Jun 2014

Israel's foreign minister said Sunday a final decision has yet to be made on his threat to expel the UN's peace envoy for offering to help transfer Qatari funds to Gaza.

Avigdor Lieberman was reported to have said by Channel Two television that he wants to declare Robert Serry persona non grata and expel him from Israel over the alleged offer.

Lieberman 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".

The television report had quoted Lieberman as saying that Serry, the UN's special envoy on the Middle East peace process, had first tried to convince the Palestinian Authority to transfer $20 million (14.7 million euros) from Qatar to resolve a pay crisis for Hamas employees in Gaza.

But after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas refused to do so, the rightwing ultra-nationalist Lieberman accused Serry of offering the UN's help in making the transfer.

Serry 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 destabilising 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.

Israel had been kept informed of all the discussions, he insisted.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the transfer of Qatari funds to Hamas, which he accuses of kidnapping three young Israelis in the West Bank on June 12, his office said.

Gas-rich Qatar said it would provide the funds to help the Palestinian unity government pay former employees of Islamist movement Hamas's disbanded Gaza government.

Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, reached an agreement in April paving the way for a unity government between the two sides.

Israel, which brands Hamas a terrorist organisation, has denounced the unity government and voiced opposition to any Western dealing with the Palestinian cabinet.

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