PA adds 20,000 Hamas workers to payroll in bid to revive stagnant reconciliation
MOHAMMED ABED (POOL/AFP)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced on Saturday that the Ramallah-based government would add 20,000 Hamas employees in Gaza to its 2018 budget in an attempt to advance a stagnating reconciliation agreement between the two rival factions.
An October 2017 agreement between the two leading Palestinian factions has been dying a slow death, with every new deadline for Islamist Hamas to hand over power in the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority (PA) missed with no progress in sight.
Announcing the overture to Hamas, Hamdallah urged the group to allow the Palestinian Authority government to assume full control over the affairs of the Strip, including tax collection, control of all border crossings, and law enforcement in the Palestinian enclave.
Hamdallah did not elaborate on which Hamas employees had been added to the PA’s payroll, but a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah later clarified that they do not include members of the group’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigade military wing.
The fate of Hamas’ 25,000-strong standing army has been a major obstacle to the success of the reconciliation accord, with the group having rejected outright disarming as part of the agreement.
Hamas and Fatah traded blame for what could turn out to be a gradual abandonment of the Egypt-brokered accord.
It was hoped that reconciliation could alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza, home to some two million people, as well as a strategy for the Palestinians to face down an increasingly hostile US administration and right-wing Israeli government.
Hamas won 2006 parliamentary elections but Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah and much of the international community refused to accept the result, leading to increased strife.
A year later, Hamas violently seized control of Gaza.
Since then two separate civil administrations emerged.
AFP contributed to this report.
You need to be logged in in order to post comments. Sign up or log in