Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

PA Forces Thousands of Gazan Employees into Early Retirement | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A view shows neighbourhoods during a power cut in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip January 11, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Ramallah– Palestinian government in Ramallah decided to force thousands of employees in the Gaza Strip into early retirement, in an attempt to force Hamas Movement to cede control of the strip.

On Tuesday, Palestinian Authority (PA) announced it had “sent into early retirement” 6,145 employees in the Gaza Strip, which is between 50 and 70 percent of their primary salaries.

PA government spokesman Yusuf al-Mahmoud said this was another step taken by the Palestinian government regarding the Gaza Strip, adding that they are temporary depending on whether Hamas gives up its rule in Gaza and allows the PA to take over.

“This measure, previous measures, and any other measures that may be taken in this framework, are temporary, and are connected to Hamas abandoning [Palestinian] division,” Mahmoud said in an official statement.

Mahmoud said the firing of the employees was part of the “national strategy to end the division and implement President Abbas’s vision to dissolve the so-called Administrative Committee” and allow the Palestinian government to assume its responsibilities in the Strip and prepare for general elections.

The new measure is added to several previous ones which included: cutting the pay of PA employees in Gaza by a third, suspending payments to prisoners, reducing payments for electricity that Israel provides, and restricting funding for medical treatments for Gazan residents in Israeli and West Bank hospitals.

Several local and international efforts for reconciliation between Hamas and PA have failed especially that Abbas is insisting that Hamas gives Gaza’s control first, while Hamas is firm in its position that Abbas should retreat all his decisions and promise to solve the strip’s problems.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that sending thousands to early retirement will be followed by several escalatory measures if Hamas doesn’t respond and could include political stances.

The government asserted that responding to this plan is the only solution.

Recent governmental measures indicate a growing anger given that Hamas is not responding to Abbas’ plan.

Hamas is currently planning to expand its administrative committee in Gaza to include officials from Dahlan Movement and other independent officials. This step is expected to be met with other measures from the PA.

PA officials stated that Hamas should have resorted to reconciliating with Fatah rather than Dahlan.

In a statement Tuesday, Hamas lashed out at the decision to fire the employees, calling it “immoral, inhuman and having nothing to do with the division.”

The movement asserted that measure was part of a plan by Abbas to “purge the Palestinian issue in line with the Zionist-American project.”

Hamas’ spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said the decision “only serves to tighten the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip.”

Barhoum added that the government has effectively abandoned its responsibilities in Gaza. He went on to urge the Ramallah government to reverse this decision and assume its legal, political and moral responsibilities for the embattled Gaza Strip’s dire political and humanitarian situation.

The PA accused Hamas of imposing royalties on Gazans for its treasury and paying 15 million shekel monthly for fuel from Egypt rather than Israeli side to maintain control over the strip.