A senior Palestinian Authority official reportedly warned that Hamas means to exploit the economic situation in the West Bank and pay off PA officers and security forces to take control of the territory.
The effort will resemble Hamas’s takeover of Gaza in 2007, the official said, according to a Tuesday report in Channel 12 news. Hamas ousted Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction from Gaza to take control of the territory two years after Israel withdrew unilaterally, and the terror group has ruled the Strip ever since.
“We fear that Hamas will exploit the deteriorating economic situation of our officers and members of the security forces, and pay money to buy them off,” the official reportedly said at a closed meeting this week.
“That’s how Hamas took control of Gaza in the coup in 2007, with bribes paid under the table,” he said.
The Palestinian finance minister in February announced salary cuts for civil servants, days after Israel said it would withhold tens of millions of dollars in tax transfers to the PA.
Israel’s security cabinet had approved the freezing of $138 million over the PA’s payments to Palestinians jailed by Israel for terrorism and violence, and to the families of dead terrorists.
In protest, PA President Abbas said he would not accept any funds from Israel unless it provided the full tax sums it owed the PA.
Israel, which collects taxes on behalf of the PA, says the payments encourage further violence.
The PA claims the payments are a form of welfare to families who have lost their main breadwinner.