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Fatah official plays down unity disputes

June 11, 2014 9:26 A.M. (Updated: June 12, 2014 10:45 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- A senior Palestinian official Tuesday played down a financial dispute with Hamas, as the Islamist movement criticized authorities for not paying government workers and for "assaulting" members at a rally.

The row over pay for Hamas-appointed government workers in Gaza, which flared last week, was the first hitch in a reconciliation deal between Hamas and the PLO that began with the formation of a new unity government.

"Reconciliation does not need to derail because of money," said Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior member of Fatah, which dominates the PLO, and by extension the Palestinian Authority.

"A solution will be found" to the pay dispute, "and we won't let any Palestinian go hungry," he said in a statement.

Hamas demanded Thursday that the PA take employees of the disbanded Gaza government onto its payroll, after the PA's Gaza-based employees received their salaries but their Hamas counterparts went empty-handed.

Hamas's 50,000 civil servants are not registered as PA employees because they were appointed after the Islamist movement ousted Fatah loyalists from Gaza in 2007.

Ahmad said the PA could not yet pay Hamas government workers since it had "not yet begun its work in Gaza," and refused to accept immediate responsibility for their wages.

In a separate sign of reconciliation teething problems, a Hamas member slammed PA security forces for "assaulting" protesters at a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah to support hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners.

Hassan Yusef said security forces had beaten several protesters, and even himself when he tried to intervene.

"Whoever does this is against the national unity government," Yusef said in a statement.

"Our battle is not with each other, and we are not against anyone. Our battle is with the (Israeli) occupation, which is targeting all of us."
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