Israeli report claims Abbas will give Hamas ultimatum

Israeli report claims Abbas will give Hamas ultimatum
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will ask Hamas to hand Gaza over to the PA or face funding cuts to the besieged enclave, Israeli analyst Avi Issacharoff has claimed.
3 min read
25 April, 2017
The PA threatens to halt all funding to besieged Gaza [AFP]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will direct an ultimatum for Islamic movement Hamas that rules Gaza in his upcoming speech, a report on Israeli website Walla has claimed.

According to Palestinian affairs analyst Avi Issacharoff, the last line in Abbas's speech – scheduled for Wednesday – will ask Hamas to hand Gaza over to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), led by Rami Hamdallah, or the PA will halt all funding to the besieged enclave.

In other words, says Issacharoff, the PA will separate from Gaza gradually, and Hamas will have to suffer the consequences.

The Israeli analyst says he spoke to several senior figures in Abbas's Fatah party, who said the President was "serious this time" and would not allow Hamas to "play games".

Hamas, on the other hand, may resort to more stalling, with the possibility of seeking negotiations and Arab mediation efforts, Issacharoff also claimed.

Hamas has been at loggerheads with Fatah since the former seized the Strip in a near civil war in 2007.

Fatah runs the West Bank, the other part of the Palestinian territories separated from Gaza by Israeli territory.

Earlier this month, protests broke out for days in Gaza after the Fatah-run PA slashed the salaries of civil servants in the enclave, saying they were necessary because its budget has been hit by falling foreign aid. PA salaries in the West Bank, however, remained untouched.

Tens of thousands took to a square in central Gaza City in the largest protest since the 30 percent cut was announced, with demonstrators calling on Abbas to sack his government.

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After Hamas seized power, around 70,000 PA employees in Gaza lost their posts but they were kept on its payroll nevertheless.

Hamas set up its own parallel administration with 50,000 staff, whose salaries the PA refuses to pay.

The PA has also been blamed for Gaza's chronic power shortages.

Gaza's power authority cut electricity in the coastal territory earlier this month in protest against the PA's recent decision to cut public sector salaries for Gaza employees and tax disputes over the import of fuel.

The PA responded by saying Hamas was attempting to create a "new crisis" in Gaza, according to Ma'an News Agency.

In 2014, Fatah and Hamas agreed to form a unity government that was meant to resolve their dispute but it has remained stillborn, with no real control in either territory.

Local elections set for May have also been suspended in the Gaza Strip after infighting between Fatah and Hamas, though they are expected to take place in the West Bank.

Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza for a decade, severely damaging the enclave's economy.

In 2015, the United Nations warned that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020 if current political and economic trends caused by Israeli policies continue.