Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett slammed Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar on Sunday following an incendiary speech he made over the weekend, while also railing against his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu for allowing Qatari funds to be transferred into Gaza.
“It seems to me that it is already quite clear at this stage that Hamas does not like this government. Maybe they miss the suitcases full of dollars, and maybe they just do not like the possibility of us all working together to better the living conditions of Arab Israeli citizens,” Bennett said during his weekly Cabinet meeting.
Under Netanyahu's government, Qatar transferred millions of dollars in cash into Gaza with Israel serving as the pipeline for the funds to guarantee they did not go toward terrorist activity. This method was viewed as a strategy to keep Hamas in play in Gaza and divided from the Palestinian Authority.
This policy had been canceled by Bennett's government and replaced by a new aid distribution mechanism involving the United Nations, according to the Times of Israel.
“This is the time that the masks come off and it is clear to everyone who wants what. That Hamas wants to overthrow our government, says it all. And in that, too, Sinwar must not be allowed to win,” Bennett added.
Sinwar delivered a speech on Saturday – full of incitement – in which he threatened to wage a “religious war” against Israel if al-Aqsa Mosque is again “violated.”
“Violating al-Aqsa and Jerusalem means a regional, religious war,” he said.
The Hamas leader referred to Israeli-Arab member of Knesset, Mansour Abbas, as “Abu Righal” – a treacherous tribesmen from the pre-Islamic period, who cleared the path for the destruction of the sacred Kaaba in Mecca by the enemy. Abbas serves as the head of the Islamist Ra’am party that joined the coalition in support of Bennett’s government.
“That you serve as a support to this government, which violates al-Aqsa, is an unforgivable crime,” Sinwar said. “For an Arab to say that this is a Jewish state is the height of degeneracy.”
In response, Abbas told Channel 12 News on Saturday that his party “owes nothing” to Hamas.
“We do whatever is the best for the Palestinian society and the Palestinian people. We believe that the process that we lead within Israel will bring general peace closer. Nobody will tell us what to do and what not to do,” Abbas said.
Abbas’ Ra’am Party recently suspended its membership in the coalition over the latest tensions in Jerusalem between Israeli security forces and Palestinian rioters. Since he apparently is not interested in new elections, Abbas is trying to reach new understandings with Bennett’s government in order to renew his party’s support for the coalition. One condition for his support is acceptance of Jordan’s suggestion for a new status-quo on the Temple Mount, which would give the Hashemite Kingdom a bigger role in controlling the holy site.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.