Ramallah – Hamas accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) of suspending the salaries of 37 of its lawmakers as part of a series of measures against the movement in the Gaza Strip.
The Finance Ministry in Ramallah informed the 37 representatives of the Change and Reform bloc in the West Bank of the salary cut and confirmed that they will not be paid this month, Hamas official Ahmed Bahr said on Sunday.
He condemned the government’s measure, deeming it “a declaration of war” against the legislative council and its democratically elected representatives. He added that this is part of the government’s policy to tighten the siege on Gaza and punish Gazzans for their support of the resistance Hamas.
Bahr called upon international organizations to pressure the government to release the salaries, urging Palestinian factions to stand against President Mahmoud Abbas to end his “reckless” measures against the people.
The PA’s move was declared a day after Abbas threatened to impose immediate financial sanctions on Hamas.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Abbas said that Hamas should realize the government will resort to certain steps if it insists on challenging the authorities. According to Abbas, Hamas, along with Israeli occupation, have cemented division among the Palestinian people.
He explained that, following meetings in the Egyptian capital Cairo, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank will impose financial sanctions against Hamas if it continues with its “the coup against the institutions of the state of Palestine in Ramallah.”
Halting the salaries comes after the government took a number of moves in recent weeks to pressure Hamas to cede control of Gaza.
Since April, the PA has severed funds for the Israeli-supplied electricity to Gaza, reduced salaries of employees in the coastal strip, cut back its medical budget and forced employees into early retirement.
The Authority took these measures two months ago after Hamas formed an administrative committee to manage Gaza. It has also demanded that the movement dissolve this committee.
Hamas MP Ayman Daraghma confirmed the PA’s move, saying that he has not been paid since June.
The PA Finance Ministry refused to comment on the issue and did not provide the lawmakers with any explanation for cutting the salaries.
Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Hassan Khreisheh said that he did not receive any official response from the Finance Ministry.