Palestinian PM calls for national unity during Gaza trip

Palestinian PM calls for national unity during Gaza trip
Rami Hamdallah says Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank must unite to overcome "great national challenge that is of utmost priority".
2 min read
25 March, 2015
Hamdallah called on Israel to give Palestinians control over Gaza's borders [AFP]
Rami Hamdallah has said Palestinian unity is the "utmost priority" as he made his second visit to the embattled Gaza Strip as Palestinian prime minister.

In a news conference in Gaza City on Wednesday, he said: "We face a great national challenge that is of utmost priority, through which we will strive to turn the page of divisions for good."

He called on Israel to hand over control of its Gaza border crossings to the Palestinian Authority, and end its withholding of tax revenues from the Palestinian government.

Hamdallah also called on Hamas to allow PA employees to return to the strip and take up positions held before the group took over in 2006.

Hamdallah announced that $800m would be allocated to the reconstruction of Gaza as part of an emergency budget that Ramallah is working to pass, adding that the government was relying on international donors to implement the reconstruction projects.

He also confirmed that the West Bank-based government would focus on education and health, and incentives for early retirement, adding that his government would "not leave anyone in the street and will find solutions for all civil servants".

However, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Hamdallah's statements did not provide anything new with regards to the problems in Gaza and further solidified the policy of preferential treatment of civil servants.

Abu Zuhri said Hamas rejected preconditions that were evident in the prime minister's speech, and called on the government to provide real solutions for Gaza without excuses.

Hamdallah is also scheduled to meet the deputy head of Hamas political office, Ismail Haniyeh, and leaders of other Palestinian factions during a visit that will last until Friday.

Upon the prime minister's arrival in Gaza, some angry residents chanted against the government's failure in dealing with the problems in Gaza, before being dispersed by security forces.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.