Speaking with the New York Times in Ramallah on Thursday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdalla admitted "he still lacked any authority" in Gaza and that nothing had changed on the ground so far.
A week and a half after the establishment of a Palestinian unity agreement between the Fatah and Hamas, Hamdallah revealed in an hour-long interview that he was not satisfied with the new government that was negotiated between the two factions.
He said that if it were up to him, he would have chosen only a few of the ministers he currently has in his new cabinet.
The prime minister said he had not yet set a time to visit Gaza: "You have to be realistic," he told the newspaper. "We’re not in control.”
"Don’t expect we’ll do it all in 24 hours,” he remarked, citing the example of the German reunification a quarter-century ago, who he says are still working it out, to this day.
He stated that "public pressure" on the government in Gaza and "intervention of a monetary official" helped resolve the bank crisis in Gaza – a dispute over public-sector salaries that shut down banks last week – rather than his or his ministers' efforts.
Talking about the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, Hamdallah said negotiations to reopen it have yet to begin, adding, “this is not in our hands.”
An issue he plans to tackle now that the government has integrated is to cancel tax exemptions for Gaza residents, which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud signed into law years ago.
The new government faces security issues as well, like disarming Hamas’s military wing and other organizations in Gaza. “We have a lot of responsibilities on our shoulders.”
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