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Hamas 'considering alternatives' to unity govt in Gaza

July 5, 2014 12:57 P.M. (Updated: July 6, 2014 7:38 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Amid frustration with the newly-formed national consensus government, Hamas is considering the option of forming a separatist government in Gaza led by Palestinian factions, a leader of the Islamist movement said Saturday.

Senior Hamas official Ahmad Yousef told Ma'an that the movement had begun consultations with nationalist and Islamist factions in the Gaza Strip to consider forming a new government.

"We are talking about an all-faction leadership to prevent security chaos and solve the crisis of salaries for the Gaza Strip's civil servants," Yousef said.

"There is a political vacuum in the Gaza Strip which creates the atmosphere for security chaos, taking into account that the national consensus government has not taken even a single step toward ending political disagreement."

"The Hamdallah government has failed to fill" the political vacuum, Yousef said.

"In Gaza there are ministries without budgets as well as ministers and employees who don't receive salaries. From a moral and national point of view everybody should work to end this state," he added.

The salary crisis started in early June when Hamas employees of the former Gaza government were angered to find out they had not been paid, with Hamas-affiliated police officers preventing PA employees from collecting their wages. Employees of the previous government see it as Ramallah's responsibility to pay their salaries, but the new unity government says no such agreement was ever made with Hamas.

Hamdallah responsible for rocket fire

Asked about increased rocket fire on Israel in recent weeks, Yousef told Ma'an Hamas was not responsible for preventing attacks.

"From a political point of view, (Prime Minister) Rami Hamdallah is responsible and he can give orders to security services to intervene. Hamas is not ruling the Gaza Strip and so it's not responsible for protecting borders."

He said Palestinian security forces had attempted to prevent rocket fire, but had not been very successful.

"Israeli aggression motivates some response, and we can't ask these bereaved people to stop," Yousef said.

As the Israeli army launched a massive search campaign in the West Bank, arresting hundreds of Palestinians and killing at least six, militant factions in Gaza increased rocket fire on Israel.

The Israeli air force has responded with near-nightly airstrikes on the besieged coastal enclave.

A Palestinian national consensus government was sworn in on June 2, as Hamas ceded power after nearly seven years of ruling Gaza.

Many issues involving the Strip, such as the fate of former employees of the Hamas government, have yet to be addressed by the new unity government.

Security coordination with Israel -- which Abbas recently described as "sacred" -- has been another major point of contention.
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