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EU contributes funds to Palestinian civil servant salaries

April 6, 2016 10:34 P.M. (Updated: April 7, 2016 9:49 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The European Union announced on Tuesday that it would contribute more than $17 million to pay the salaries of Palestinian civil servants in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, amid an ongoing Palestinian funding crisis.

The Office of the European Union Representative stated in a press release that it was contributing “approximately EUR 15.3 million ($17.4 million) to the payment of March salaries and pensions of over 66,000 Palestinian civil servants and pensioners in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” of which EUR 300,000 ($342,000) was funded directly by the Irish government.

The contribution was “part of the 2016 package of direct financial support for the Palestinian Authority announced last month for a total of EUR 170.5 million,” or $194.5 million, the statement added.

The PA has failed to pay its employees’ salaries at regular intervals for some time now across all government sectors in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in Gaza.

In early March, around 50 PA government employees stormed the PLO's Office of Refugee Affairs in the Gaza Strip to protest their missing salaries, weeks after civil servants hired by Gaza’s de facto Hamas leaders implemented a one-day strike across all Gaza ministries and public institutions over their own unpaid salaries.

The status of the Hamas government’s employees has been one of the major points of dispute between Hamas and the PA, especially after the two rival factions agreed to back the creation of a unity government of politically-independent technocrats in June 2014.

Most of the Hamas employees have gone without pay for months, by some estimates receiving only 40 percent of what is owed to them.

There has been little prospect of a solution to the dispute, with a high-profile bid by the unity government to establish itself in Gaza last summer ending in complete disarray.

The PA’s ability to pay its employees has also been curtailed by Israel’s regular practice of withholding tax revenues it collects on the Palestinian Authority’s behalf.
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