Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey.
(photo credit: REUTERS/OSMAN ORSAL)
In a fiery speech last month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hinted that he was about to cut all budgets allocated to the Gaza Strip if the PA does not take full control of the coastal enclave.
Hamas has controlled Gaza since it ousted the Fatah-dominated PA from the territory in 2007.
Abbas was furious with Hamas, which he had accused of planting an explosive that struck PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s motorcade after it entered northern Gaza on March 13. Hamas spokesmen have called the accusation erroneous.
PA's Hamdallah safe after explosion near convoy in Gaza, March 13, 2018 (Reuters)
“If everything is in our hands, we will take full responsibility [for Gaza.] But if everything is not in our hands, they will bear full responsibility for everything [in Gaza],” he said.
The PA pays approximately $100 million monthly for services in Gaza, according to Hamdallah. Some of the services it pays for include electricity, water, public servants’ salaries and social welfare stipends.
However, after the first day of a six-week long planned protest in the border region between Israel and Gaza last Friday, in which at least 15 Palestinians were killed, Abbas likely will find it difficult to move forward with any new cuts to budgets for the enclave.
Even before the deadly demonstration, Abbas was under pressure not to move forward with new budget cuts.
Egypt has been putting considerable pressure on Abbas not to enact any new budget cuts, according to two Palestinian sources who spoke with The Jerusalem Post.
In a phone call with Abbas on March 19, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi asked him to hold off from implementing any new budget cuts and allow for Cairo’s General Intelligence Services to make additional efforts to advance reconciliation, both sources said.
Abbas reluctantly agreed to Sisi’s request, but demanded Hamas hand over full control of Gaza to the PA, both sources added.
However, after Friday’s protest, Abbas also does not want to be seen as taking action against Gaza exactly at the time he is asking the international community to provide “international protection” for Palestinians, including in Gaza.
Abbas asked Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour on Friday to request the UN Security Council to provide “international protection” for the Palestinians.
At least in the near term, the PA president probably will be holding off from slashing any budgets for the Strip.