Hamas Willing to Hand Over Gaza Governance to Ramallah

Senior Hamas leader Salah Bardawil.


Gaza City, Palestine, 29 Rajab 1438/26 April 2017 (MINA) – Palestinian resistance movement Hamas on Tuesday voiced its readiness to relinquish authority in the Gaza Strip to the West Bank-based Palestinian ‘unity’ government.

The assertions came at a press conference convened by leading Hamas member Salah al-Bardawil, at which he said the group was prepared to dissolve an “administrative committee” established last month to coordinate between Gaza’s public institutions.

“We further agree to Qatari proposals for ending internal Palestinian divisions,” al-Bardawil said, adding: “The responses by Fatah and Hamas to the proposals have been sent to the Qatari foreign minister and we are awaiting Qatar’s position on these responses.”

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem, for his part, told Anadolu Agency earlier that Qatar had recently tabled proposals aimed at ending years of acrimony between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah.

At Tuesday’s press conference, al-Bardawil said Hamas members had met with a Fatah delegation in Gaza last week, where they had voiced the group’s readiness to allow the Ramallah-based government “to assume its governing role in Gaza and dissolve the administrative committee once it does so”.

“Members of the Fatah delegation promised to convey our demands to [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas, most important of which is the elimination of taxes imposed on the fuel needed for Gaza’s last remaining power plant,” al-Bardawil said.

Earlier this month, Abbas announced plans to take “unprecedented steps” in regards to the Gaza Strip, which has been governed by Hamas since 2007.

While Abbas did not specify as to what “decisive steps” would be taken, some observers believe he was considering severing Ramallah’s relations with Gaza in the event that Hamas rejected his demand to dissolve the administrative committee.


Still under the PA’s responsibility

The Ramallah government, which, like the Palestinian Authority (PA), is led by Abbas’s Fatah movement, is responsible for paying the salaries of some 60,000 PA employees in Gaza and providing health and education services to the strip’s roughly 2 million inhabitants.

Ramallah also coordinates with Israel with a view to providing Gaza with electricity and supervising the import of goods into the Israeli-blockaded strip.

Early this month, PA employees who work in the Gaza Strip were dismayed to find that the Ramallah government had cut their March salaries by some 30 percent.

In 2014, Hamas and Fatah — which govern the Gaza Strip and the West Bank respectively — agreed in principle to establish a unity government.

The so-called “unity government” in Ramallah, however, has so far failed to assume a governing role in Gaza due to outstanding differences between the two rival factions. (T/RS5/RS1)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)