The move, which halts the complete freezing of Iranian funds in Qatar’s banking system, comes after Hamas attacks against Israel and continued criticism from Republicans of the agreement reached by the government of US President Joe Biden. the release of five Americans detained in the Middle Eastern country. The official who outlined the agreement between the United States and Qatar was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.
US officials rejected the criticism, saying the money had not been used in Iran and could only be used for humanitarian issues.
“None of the funds that have now gone to Qatar have actually been spent or accessed in any way by Iran,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israeli reporters on Thursday when asked about the money. “In fact, the funds in that account are managed by the Treasury Department, they can only be distributed for humanitarian products – food, medicine, medical equipment – and do not touch the hands of Iran.”
The White House says they have not yet discovered information that Iran was directly involved in the recent Hamas operation against Israel. However, Iran is the main financial and military backer of Hamas. US officials said their intelligence services did not see direct Iranian involvement and did not blame Tehran.
Meanwhile, the White House announced that the federal government will begin evacuation flights on Friday for Americans who want to leave Israel.
And in a show of support for Israel, a US official confirmed that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin plans to visit Israel on Friday, following Blinken’s visit on Thursday.
Austin is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to determine what other military assistance is needed for his war against Hamas, according to the US official, who spoke on condition unknown.