Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1372, (7 - 13 December 2017)
Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Issue 1372, (7 - 13 December 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Reconciled to delay

The administrative handover of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority has been postponed to 10 December. Ahmed Morsy reports


Fatah and Hamas representatives signing the reconciliation deal in Cairo in October
Fatah and Hamas representatives signing the reconciliation deal in Cairo in October

Delegations from Hamas and Fatah arrived in Cairo on Friday for a new round of talks on implementing the reconciliation agreement mediated by Egypt and signed in Cairo in late October. Under the agreement Hamas will hand administrative control of Gaza, including of the Rafah crossing, to the PA.

The deadline for the handover had been set for 1 December but on 29 November both sides agreed to postpone it to 10 December.

“Hamas and Fatah call on Egypt to postpone the transfer of power from 1 to 10 December in order to finalise details,” said a joint statement issued last week by the two Palestinian factions.

The Cairo-brokered deal attempts to draw a line beneath the rift that has divided the Palestinians’ two main political factions since Hamas took control of Gaza following a landslide victory in parliamentary elections in late 2006.

Problems placing PA personnel in positions currently occupied by Hamas-hired employees are thought to be behind the decision to delay the handover.

According to Wafa, the official PA news Website, Hamas-hired employees in Gaza obstructed PA employees from entering government buildings last week after the PA called upon its Gaza-based employees to return to work in ministries and government institutions after a ten year absence. Hamas accused the PA of “causing chaos and confusion in some of Gaza’s ministries” as a result of its “irresponsible decision... to call on [PA] employees to return to work.”

When Hamas took over Gaza in 2007 the PA ordered its 60,000 employees in the Strip to boycott their jobs. Some 47,000 employees complied, forcing Hamas to employ 40, 000 -50,000 to fill the positions.

Trade unions in Gaza have hampered the return of PA employees until the status of Hamas-hired workers is resolved. Under the reconciliation agreement, signed at the Egyptian General Intelligence Service headquarters in Cairo, a PA-formed administrative committee was supposed “to find a solution to the employee issue” by 1 February 2018.

As part of his attempts to force Hamas to abandon control on Gaza, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cut payments to Israel for the electricity it supplies to Gaza in June, resulting in extensive daily power cuts. Abbas has also reduced the salaries of 60,000 Gazans employed by the PA by 30 per cent.

Hamas has urged the PA “to carry out its duties and lift the unjust sanctions placed on our people in Gaza, or resign and form a national government.”

This week’s meetings in Cairo will hopefully pave the way for a transfer of power in Gaza by the newly-decided deadline of 10 December as Egyptian security officials encourage Palestinian officials from Hamas and Fatah to overcome any remaining obstacles in the way of implementing the reconciliation agreement.

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