Tensions between Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian parties, are close to breaking point over the non-payment of salaries to Gaza’s public sector workers, raising the risk of a return to conflict in the territory, officials say.
The ceasefire struck last month to end Israel’s war with Hamas included stipulations that the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, should take over civil administration in Gaza from Hamas, an Islamist movement.
Hamas thought that would mean its 40,000 employees in Gaza, who have not been paid for months and are growing restive, would be taken care of via the Palestinian Authority payroll, which and a further 70,000 in Gaza, all linked to Fatah.
Not only can the Palestinian Authority not afford to pay all those extra workers, but international donors who support the PA budget, including the European Union, first want a thorough audit of workers and cutbacks to the bloated payroll, which costs more than $2 billion a year. Paying the Hamas salaries as well would add a further $420 million.
Equally, Fatah is unwilling to give any support to Hamas until the movement stops running what Abbas has described as a “shadow government” in Gaza and fully commits to a unity government deal that the two parties agreed last April.
“If Hamas won’t accept a Palestinian state with one government, one law and one gun, then there won’t be any partnership between us,” Abbas said last week. “This is our condition, and we won’t back away from it.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said there was no desire to return to conflict and that efforts were being made to meet with Fatah officials to reconcile differences. Memories of 2007, when Hamas openly fought Fatah in the streets of Gaza before seizing full control of the territory, remain fresh.
As a stop-gap measure, the Hamas-controlled Finance Ministry in Gaza announced on Wednesday it would make partial payments, between 1,000 shekels and 4,500 shekels ($275 and $1,240), to Hamas-hired government employees on Thursday.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر