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Palestinian PM conditions salaries on Hamas concessions

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah

Palestinian Authority (PA) employees in the Gaza Strip will receive their full salaries depending on the availability of funds and Hamas’s response to certain political demands, Rami al-Hamdallah, head of the Ramallah-based Palestinian government, said Tuesday.

He made the assertion in a press statement released following a weekly meeting in Ramallah, during which he reportedly vowed that his government would “not abandon the Gaza Strip”.

“The recent decision to reduce the salaries of [PA] employees in Gaza is a temporary one,” he said in the statement.

Read: Thousands gather in Gaza as protests continue against PA salary cuts

Full salaries, he went on to assert, “will be paid once the needed funds are available and Hamas responds to proposals made by Palestinian President [Mahmoud] Abbas”.

Last week, Abbas called on Hamas — which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007 — to dissolve a recently established “administrative committee” tasked with coordinating between various branches of the Hamas-run Gaza government.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council at the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland on February 27, 2017 [Mustafa Yalçın / Anadolu Agency]

Image of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on February 27, 2017 [Mustafa Yalçın / Anadolu Agency]

Hamas MP Yahia Moussa, for his part, said the seven-member committee had been drawn up with a view to “coordinating between the ministries of the Gaza government in the absence of any governing role by the Ramallah-based unity government”.

The PA’s Gaza-based employees were surprised early last week to find that their monthly salaries for March had been cut by some 30 percent.

In an effort to resolve the crisis, Fayez Abu Eita, a spokesman for Abbas’s Fatah movement (which leads the unity government), said a Fatah delegation would visit the Gaza Strip “within days” to meet with Hamas officials.

Abu Eita did not provide an exact date for the visit but voiced hope that Hamas would “respond positively” to Abbas’s request for the new administrative committee’s dissolution.

“We hope to see an end to Palestinian divisions and the formation of a government capable of exerting control over the entire country and resolving its many crises,” he added.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem, for his part, said that reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas could only be achieved “if President Abbas wills it”.

“Reconciliation hinges entirely on the president; it depends on his personal discretion,” Qassem told Anadolu Agency, going on to assert that Abbas “rejects any kind of national partnership”.

Qassem also called for “the immediate implementation of earlier reconciliation agreements” and an end to what he described as the Palestinian president’s policy of “monopolising Palestinian decision-making”.

In 2014, Hamas and Fatah – which govern the Gaza Strip and the West Bank respectively – agreed to establish a unity government.

The unity government, however, has so far failed to assume a governing role in Gaza due to outstanding differences between Palestine’s two leading political factions.

Protest

In a related development Tuesday, leftist activists demonstrated outside the unity government’s Gaza City office to protest last week’s salary cuts.

Participants held banners aloft reading, “No to exclusion and discrimination” and “Gaza is part of Palestine and deserves justice”.

Tuesday’s protest saw the participation of leading members of Palestinian leftist factions, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian National Initiative, the Palestinian People’s Party and the Palestinian Democratic Union.

Addressing protesters, leading PFLP member Khaled Thawabta warned that the salary cuts which he said had affected “all segments of our people”, would lead to “catastrophic social and political repercussions”.

“The salary issue is entirely political,” Thawabta asserted. “It is fundamentally tied to the ongoing state of

It is fundamentally tied to the ongoing state of inter-Palestinian rift.

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