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Minister: No dialogue between unity government and Hamas

April 26, 2015 11:22 A.M. (Updated: July 26, 2015 3:11 P.M.)
Minister of Labor Mamoun Abu Shahla (MaanImages/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The national unity government has cut off contact with Hamas in the wake of a high-profile visit to Gaza that ended in disarray last Monday, Minister of Labor Mamoun Abu Shahla told Ma'an on Sunday.

Abu Shahla said: "There has been no contact between the government and Hamas since the return of the ministerial delegation, which was unable to achieve its aims due to restrictions imposed by Hamas."

The government delegation of eight ministers was visiting the coastal enclave in a bid to tackle an employee dispute with Hamas.

Since last year, when Fatah and Hamas formed a unity government, Hamas has demanded that the government regulate the salaries of its 50,000 employees, who took up their positions when the movement seized power in 2007, and replaced 70,000 former Palestinian Authority employees.

However, the Fatah-dominated PA has pledged to return the 70,000 former employees to their positions, saying that the Hamas workers would only be hired "according to need."

The government delegation, which arrived in Gaza last Sunday, had intended to register these former employees, but they allege that Hamas prevented them from carrying out their work by confining them in their hotel. The delegation departed the next day.

A Hamas spokesman rejected the claims, saying the ministers had refused to leave the hotel.

Abu Shahla said: "The actions of Hamas during the delegation's visit will not go unnoticed and certainly there will be consequences."

The labor minister said he was not optimistic about the next steps as officials seek to close the developing rift.

He also said it was unlikely that Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah would visit Gaza this week.

"Hamdallah was scheduled to visit Gaza tomorrow after returning from Indonesia, but there is currently no talk of the visit," Abu Shahla said, noting that the decision ultimately lay with the president.

He said that he believed the subject would be discussed during a government meeting next Tuesday.

Warning over Gaza reconstruction

Abu Shahla warned that reconstruction would suffer in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip if the unity government was unable to take control of ministries across the coastal enclave.

He said that foreign funding would not come through unless unity government officials were clearly established in power, adding: "There are commitments to donors."

He said that a government reshuffle was scheduled in coming days adding that Hamas had previously been consulted on this issue.

At the end of last month, Minister of the National Economy Muhammad Mustafa, who had been overseeing reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip, resigned from his position.

There was widespread speculation that Mustafa's resignation came following criticism of the slow pace of reconstruction.

Large swathes of Gaza remain in ruin following a devastating Israeli offensive on the coastal enclave last summer that left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead and 100,000 homeless.

However, Abu Shahla said on Sunday that Mustafa "remained on top of his work as Minister of the Economy," and was awaiting the government reshuffle.
Legal Eagel / Australia
One word to solve the impasse - ELECTIONS. But Fatah refused to accept defeat in 2006 and no doubt will refuse to accept it again... and Ma'an should clean up its reporting - Hamas did not "sieze power in 2007" - Hamas was ELECTED in 2006 in internationally-recognised free, open and fair elections
26/04/2015 12:10
Phil / USA
And the result of this free, open and fair election in 2006 was that Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza and cut off ties with the Hamas government, which is unashamedly in favor of Israel's destruction, not just forming a Palestinian state. Islamic theology has taken Gaza into worse suffering.
26/04/2015 14:17
Tibi / Tubas
Unity was all about bringing Hamas and the PLO together, so
-1- If There Is No Dialogue With Hamas, Then
There Can Be No Palestinian Unity Government Either, And
-2- If There Is No Dialogue With Israel, Then
There Will Be No Palestine Too !!
26/04/2015 14:41
@ Legal / USA
It may be true that Hamas was "elected in an internationally recognized free, open and fair" manner, but also
It is definitely true that Hamas "seized power" by a military conflict with Fatah (10-15 June 2007), which resulted in 161 deaths, including many civilians !!
26/04/2015 14:55
Dimi / Germany
To my mind the only solution is to dissolve Hamas security forces
and to integrete the appropriate officers into the police forces of the unity
government. In case Hamas will resist then it� s bosses should be
arrested and brought to justice. 1948 Israel did the same with it`s militias.
26/04/2015 16:50
@ Dimi (Germany) / USA
Your "only solution is " Impossible, since such religious extremists will remain committed to a "Resistance", which the rest of the world knows as "Terrorism", whether Hamas security forces are dissolved or not !!
26/04/2015 20:04
Hager / US
Fatah is incompetent and serves only to carry out the orders of their colonial masters at the expense of Palestinian security. Of course it's going to make reconstruction slow and impossible because they don't care about Palestinians or their struggle for independence.
27/04/2015 15:48
Outlier / USA
With the incompetence, wrong-headedness and lousy credibility of both groups, it is amazing Palestinians have tolerated them for so long. Due to their sterling leadership, Palestinians are now farther from a peace agreement and a Palestinian state than ever.
29/04/2015 05:41
Tibi / Tubas
Only One Thing Can Help Palestinians (Peace Talks), But
They Are Determined Never To Do It, So
Their "State" Will Remain Just An "Authority", And
Their People Will Remain Blockaded, Impoverished, And
Dying Periodically, In Wars Of Their Choosing !!
30/04/2015 23:22
Tobias / USA
With Palestinians No unity is ever going to be possible, since
- the PLO) must continue pretending to seek peace (for donations), and
- Islamic militants will never accepts such a pretense or lie, and
regardless statehood will remain impossible without compromises,
that Palestinians won't accept.
02/05/2015 22:31
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