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Hamas to dissolve administrative committee if PA halts all punitive measures in Gaza

Aug. 3, 2017 4:24 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 16, 2017 8:52 P.M.)
Hamas rally in Gaza (Photo: Hamas official website)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- In an attempt to achieve national reconciliation between feuding Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, and alleviate a dire humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, the Hamas movement announced on Thursday its readiness to do away with its administrative committee in Gaza, should the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) retract all punitive measures imposed on the besieged coastal enclave in recent months.

Member of Hamas’s politburo Salah al-Bardwil said in a statement that once the PA “takes over all responsibilities in Gaza,” Hamas would dissolve its administrative committee, which it formed earlier this year amid outrage from the PA, which accused Hamas of attempting to form a shadow government and run Gaza independent of the occupied West Bank.

Following the announcement of the administrative committee, the Ramallah-based PA was accused of deliberately sending the impoverished Gaza Strip further into a humanitarian catastrophe in order to wrestle control of the territory from Hamas.

The PA decided to slash funding for Israeli fuel to the coastal enclave, as Israeli authorities acceded to PA demands to dramatically reduce its electricity supply to Gaza, which was already reeling from lack of access to electricity and fuel.

Other policies implemented by the PA included allegedly halting medical referrals to patients in Gaza to receive medical treatment outside of the territory and cutting its funding to the medical sector in the besieged enclave, which has seen the typical $4 million monthly budget of Gaza’s health ministry plummet to just $500,000, have also greatly exacerbated the dire situation of residents in Gaza.

Sparking perhaps the most outrage, in April, the PA made huge cuts to the salaries of PA civil servants in Gaza, ranging from cuts of 30 to 70 percent of original salaries.

Al-Bardwil demanded on Thursday that all such procedures that were imposed in retaliation for the formation of the administrative committee, and that once the committee is dissolved, the PA must take on the responsibility of hiring and managing the current members of the committee.

He called upon all Palestinian factions to “immediately start a national dialogue to achieve a government that represents national unity and gives the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) the authority to perform its duties.”

Al-Bardwil also called for preparations of presidential and legislative elections “that would come out with the best interests of the Palestinian people.”

“Hamas’s stance is a response to the people’s voice in Jerusalem and everywhere, and confirmation of Hamas’s commitment to national interest and past agreements,” al-Bardwil said.

Al-Bardwil’s statement came a day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with a West Bank Hamas delegation in Ramallah to discuss national reconciliation.

During the meeting, Abbas allegedly told the delegation that "if Hamas dissolves the administrative committee it had established to run the Gaza Strip and enables the government of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to work freely in Gaza, then all measures recently applied to the Gaza Strip will be retracted."

Renewed calls for national reconciliation sprang up last month in the wake of a massive civil disobedience campaign among Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem in protest of Israeli measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Numerous attempts have been made in the past to reconcile Hamas and Fatah since they came into violent conflict in 2007, shortly after Hamas’ 2006 victory in general elections held in the Gaza Strip.

However, Palestinian leadership has repeatedly failed to follow through on promises of reconciliations, as both movements have frequently blamed each other for numerous political failures.

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