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Abbas to Gradually Cut Gaza’s Annual Budget | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas looks on as Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al Khalid al Sabah and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki (not seen) sign an agreement and a memorandum of understanding, in the West Bank city of Ramallah September 14, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Ramallah- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would gradually stop paying up to $1.5 billion a year for Gaza Strip if Hamas refused to hand over the territory to the current Palestinian government.

Abbas called on Hamas to accept his initiative of the “appeal of Jerusalem”, stressing that he would not allow the separation of Gaza from the rest of Palestine.

The president was referring to an initiative launched by Palestinian political and academic figures on Thursday, calling for achieving reconciliation and ending internal divisions that have started in mid-2017.

The initiative was launched by a group called “Patriots to End the Divide” at a press conference held in Ramallah and called for the formation of a Palestinian national unity government and the holding of general elections as soon as possible.

The appeal called for dissolving Hamas-led administrative committee in the Gaza Strip in parallel with a move by Abbas to lift all the sanctions he had taken against Gaza in recent months, including the cut of employees’ salaries and electricity and health bills.

The initiative underlined the need to implement all national agreements to end the split, in particular the Cairo agreement, which was signed in 2011.

During a meeting with a delegation from Jerusalem on Sunday, Abbas said: “Our goal is to achieve Palestinian national reconciliation. We want to reach national unity by peaceful means and we have held hundreds of meetings, including dozens of agreements to this purpose until Hamas took a different path three or four months ago by forming a new government (the administrative committee)”.

The Palestinian president warned that as long as Hamas did not respond to the initiative, he would gradually stop paying funds amounting to $1.5 billion, which are allocated annually to the Gaza Strip.

“When they formed this government, I said that I would gradually stop these payments, step by step. There are countries in the world that have asked us about the reason behind our decision. We said that there is a cause and a result; the reason is the government and the result is cutting the funds,” Abbas said.

“When they dissolve the government, we will abolish these measures,” he added.