The Palestinian unity government will not be able to oversee Gaza’s reconstruction drive without full administrative and security control over the Strip, a demand currently blocked by Hamas, the government declared in a statement this week.
Following a rare government meeting in Gaza Tuesday, the government of Rami Hamdallah said Wednesday that PA civil servants who had left their positions as a result of Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 must be allowed to resume their posts, a move that would effectively put Hamas appointees out of business.
Hamdallah pledged to compensate the Hamas appointees through microfinancing for small businesses and donor state loans, on top of retirement packages.
“No one will be wronged, and no state employee will be left without the ability to obtain reasonable income,” he was quoted by official WAFA news agency as saying.
European Union auditors called in December 2013 for the de-funding of thousands of PA employees who were told by Ramallah to stay home ever since Hamas’s takeover more than seven years ago but have nevertheless continued to receive government salaries. Last June, Hamas physically blocked these employees from entering Gaza’s banks, as a financial pitfall left Hamas employees without income.
The government indicated that it would not be able to push forward Gaza’s reconstruction without full presence in the Strip’s border crossings, hinting that international funding had stalled due to Hamas’s insistence on remaining there.
“If the government were to receive the crossings unchallenged, it could impose its control and take responsibility for the reconstruction. This would encourage donor states to fulfill their pledges made in the Cairo reconstruction conference,” the statement read.
An incredulous Hamas attacked the government statement, claiming that the unity government had pledged at the meeting to solve all of Gaza’s problems within four weeks. Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, published a protocol of his meeting with Labor Minister Mamoun Abu Shahla, according to which Hamdallah promised to solve the pending issue of conflict between Hamas and Fatah “and grant job security to all civil servants without exception.”
“There is no justification for the existence of the government or [Mahmoud] Abbas [as PA president] if they continue dragging their feet vis-a-vis the people and its feelings,” Gaza-based Hamas official Salah Bardawil told Hamas daily Al-Resalah Thursday. Addressing Abbas, he added: “Hamas will not await your mercy whenever you choose to bestow it. If you have decided to forsake [Gaza], we will do whatever we can to avoid the impending disaster, which you wish for.”