JERUSALEM, Israel – On Monday, Qatar announced its intention to pull out of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). It also announced a second $15 million cash payment to Hamas to cover the salaries of 30,000 Hamas "officials."
Qatar's first $15 million in cash, delivered in several suitcases, came as Egyptian mediators negotiated a "long-term" ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. The elusive ceasefire followed the largest rocket barrage ever launched against southern Israel, with more than 500 rockets pummeling Gaza-perimeter communities in a 24-hour period.
Israel's YNet news, citing "credible sources," said the second cash payment will be distributed Tuesday through the post office. Israel has reportedly approved the funds as long as they're not used to fund terror attacks against Israel. In November, Qatar also provided fuel for Gaza's only power plant.
Before leaving the coalition last month, former Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman predicted the money will be used to fund terrorist activities against Israel.
Meanwhile, Qatari minister of energy affairs Saad Sherida al-Kaabi released a statement Monday saying his country would increase its export of natural gas and raise production.
"In light of such efforts and plans, and in our pursuit to strengthen Qatar's position as a reliable and trustworthy energy supplier across the globe, we had to take steps to review Qatar's role and contributions on the international energy scene," al-Kaabi said in a statement posted by AP.
According to the report, Qatar's wealth stems from its share in the offshore North Field, discovered in 1971, ranking third behind Russia and Iran, which share in the offshore field.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest exporter, along with Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, cut ties with Qatar and launched an economic boycott that included preventing Qatar Airways from using its airspace, closing its land border and blocking its ships from their ports.
Qatar was the first country to join OPEC when it was formed in 1960. Other members include Algeria, Angola, Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.
Saudi Arabia's production topped more than 11 million barrels daily last month.
In June 2017, US President Donald Trump said America is poised to enter an era of energy dominance worldwide.