Unity Govt to ‘Work out’ Issue of Gaza Employees

The Palestinian unity government pledged Tuesday to “work out” the issue of government employees in Gaza.

Ihab Bseiso, the spokesman of the national consensus government, said in a news conference that the unity government would guarantee the positions of all employees who worked for Hamas government ministries before the formation of the West Bank-Gaza government.

The unity government will also offer open positions to Palestinian Authority government employees, Bseiso said.

He said the government had “several solutions” to the issue of government employees and salaries, without elaborating.

The Hamas movement responded in a statement by saying it disapproved of the national consensus government’s decisions regarding Gaza employees.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the decisions favored Fatah leadership at the expense of Palestinian reconciliation, without providing further details regarding the decisions.

Abu Zuhri called on the unity government to stop its “policy of discrimination” against Gaza employees.

Meanwhile, dozens of employees protested in front of the building where the unity government was holding a cabinet meeting in Gaza.

The head of Gaza’s public employees union, Muhammad Siyam, told Ma’an the protest was a message to Prime Minister Rami Hamdullah that the union would continue protest measures until all its demands were met.

Workers are demanding the unity government pay the backlogged salaries of Gaza civil servants and other government employees.

Tuesday marked only the second meeting of the unity government cabinet — it met for the first time on Oct. 9 ahead of a major donors’ conference for the territory.

Unity Govt ‘Failing Gaza’

Earlier, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh accused the unity government of failing to meet its commitment to rebuild the war-torn Gaza Strip.

Speaking late on Monday shortly after the ministerial delegation from the West Bank arrived in Gaza, Haniyeh said the government had failed “to keep its commitments, by not carrying out reconstruction, nor unifying institutions under the Palestinian Authority, nor organizing elections.”

Haniyeh accused the government of acting selectively in a manner that was “harmful” to Gaza and said he was “not optimistic” that the current visit would manage to get things “back on track.”

“Unfortunately, the government has not managed to prove it is the government of the entire Palestinian people,” said Haniyeh.

His remarks, broadcast on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa television, were made several hours after eight ministers and more than 40 other government officials from Ramallah arrived to kickstart the reconstruction of Gaza, which has yet to begin.

Before the government’s formation in June, Hamas and Fatah led rival administrations in Gaza and the West Bank.

An April 23 agreement between Hamas and Fatah paved the way for the formation of a government of national unity for the first time in seven years, but Israel has strongly opposed the deal and severely targeted Hamas in the months that followed.

But critics have noted that the unity government has made few changes in Gaza.

A major point of tension is the fact that Hamas and Fatah have yet to agree on a solution to pay employees of the former Hamas-run government in the Strip who had gone without salaries for months before the unity deal.

The political division between Fatah and Hamas began in 2007, a year after Hamas won legislative elections across the Palestinian territories but was subjected to a boycott by Israel and Western countries that left the economy in a fragile state.

(Ma’an and agencies – www.maannews.net)

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