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Qatar pledges $20 million to Hamdallah for Gaza salaries

June 13, 2014 1:05 P.M. (Updated: June 15, 2014 2:15 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Qatar promised to transfer $20 million to the Palestinian national unity government on Friday in a bid to offer a short-term solution to a crisis over wages that has plagued the administration since a banking crisis in Gaza last week.

The spokesman for the unity government and director of the government media center Ehab Bessaiso said that Qatari Prime Minister Abdullah Bin Nasser had told Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah via telephone that Qatar plans to send $20 million to pay for the salaries for a period of three months.

The payment would cover May's salaries, which were the subject of a dispute that shut banks across the Gaza Strip for a week earlier this month, as well as for June and July, with the intention of giving the government time to work out a long-term plan.

Bessaiso said that the payments would "be concluded through the formation of a special fund to pay the salaries of the employees in the Gaza Strip who have been employed since 2007."

"The fund will pay their salaries as advances in conjunction with the work of the administrative legal committee that was formed by the unity government to help treat the civil cases and the administrative problems resulting from the split."

At the heart of the problem is the existence of two distinct civil services in the Gaza Strip, one which was employed since 2007 when Hamas gained control over the area and the Palestinian Authority was ousted, and the other which was employed previously.

The pre-2007 employees were receiving salaries from the PA throughout the entirety of the seven-year split despite their inability to work, while the new employees received salaries from the Hamas government.

When the government of national unity was formed at the beginning of June, it was unclear whether the pre-2007 employees would begin work again at the expense of the post-2007 employees, leading to quarrels as workers tried to withdraw salaries last month until Hamas-affiliated police officers shut the banks pending a solution.

Bessaiso confirmed that the administrative legal committee planned to work on the basis of achieving justice and equity without discrimination between the groups of employees.

He also confirmed the principle of partnership between the Palestinian people in government institutions on the basis of efficiency, taking into account the available possibilities including increased employment in government institutions.

Bessaiso also welcomed the Arab and international efforts to support the reconciliation government and to strengthen its role in ending the effects of division and achieving unity.

The statements come after the New York Times published an article on Friday in which Prime Minister Hamdallah said that the unity government would not pay the 40,000 employees of the Hamas government and that no plan was in place for their retention as staff.

The Qatari contribution, however, appears to have offered a short-term solution to the crisis, and it is expected that a longer-term solution will be worked out in the coming months regarding the fate of the former Hamas government public employees.
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