Unity deal at risk if Abbas does not end sanctions: Hamas

A man holds a picture of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during celebrations after Hamas said it reached a deal with Palestinian rival Fatah, in Gaza City on October 12, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 17 October 2017
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Unity deal at risk if Abbas does not end sanctions: Hamas

GAZA CITY: Hamas has warned that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s delay in easing sanctions on Gaza was putting at risk a landmark unity deal signed last week.
“The continuation of the punitive measures against our people in Gaza a month after the dissolution of the administrative council spoils the general atmosphere for reconciliation,” a party spokesman said in a statement to Hamas media.
Hamas last month agreed to dissolve its administrative council, seen as a rival government in Gaza, and return civilian power in the enclave to the Palestinian Authority a decade after seizing it in a near civil war.
Chief among their demands, however, was that Abbas drop a series of measures taken against Gaza.
Among these were reductions in energy payments for the territory which left its 2 million residents with only a few hours of mains electricity per day.
Hamas is due to hand over Gaza’s border crossings by Nov. 1 ahead of a full transfer of power by Dec. 1.
The PA’s top border official visited Gaza on Monday.
Previous reconciliation agreements between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank, have collapsed over implementation of specific issues.
Security control of the Gaza Strip is expected to be a major stumbling block, with Hamas refusing to disarm its 25,000-strong armed wing.


Hundreds of jobs axed in PLO cutback

Updated 26 min 39 sec ago
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Hundreds of jobs axed in PLO cutback

  • Among the departments to be axed from the PLO are social affairs, military, Jerusalem, sports, youth and the diaspora
  • Most of the PNC’s budget goes to pay salaries to staff who have little work to do

AMMAN: Hundreds of staff who are paid salaries but do little work will lose their jobs in a major downsizing of the Palestine Liberation Organization. 

The restructuring is aimed at ending the duplication of tasks by the PLO and the Palestinian government, and reducing the size of the 700-member Palestine National Council, which is expected to lose half its staff and half its budget. 

Among the departments to be axed from the PLO are social affairs, military, Jerusalem, sports, youth and the diaspora. Those that deal with refugees, planning, culture, media and the national fund will remain.

“Why do we need staff and offices in the PLO for such areas as social affairs and education, when we have major ministries in the government that are focusing on these areas?” Hanna Amireh, a member of the PLO’s executive committee, told Arab News. 

“When the PLO was responsible for all Palestinian affairs, this made sense, but now we have a government with relevant ministries and it doesn’t make sense to have such duplication.”

Most PLO staff belong to the various factions that make up the organization, and have been on the payroll for many years. This arrangement allowed these factions to provide jobs for their members. 

PLO sources told Arab News that the restructuring would also affect the Palestine National Council. The PNC holds occasional extraordinary meetings, but its full regular session scheduled for April 30 will be the first for 22 years.

Most of the PNC’s budget goes to pay salaries to staff who have little work to do. “The membership of the PNC will have to be cut in half, as will its budget,” a PLO source said. 

Najeeb Qaddoumi, a PNC member and senior Fatah activist in Jordan, confirmed that a restructuring would take place on April 30 but denied that it would be downsizing. “Some departments might be eliminated and others might be boosted,” he said.

Ali Qleibo, an artist, author and lecturer at Al Quds University, said the PLO had “exhausted its role since Lebanon and has caused chaos in the land.”

The downsizing will surprise analysts who had expected the Palestinians to revitalize the PLO after the failure of the peace process and the lack of trust in the Palestinian Authority.