The new Palestinian government headed by Salaam Fayad will use international aid to pay salaries to all civil servants of the Palestinian Authority, including those who are affiliated with Hamas, PA officials here said Monday. "The new government is in charge of all the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," said one official. "All those who are on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority will soon receive full salaries." Another PA official said Fayad's government will allocate millions of dollars to "support the people of the Gaza Strip." He added: "We're not going to give money to the Hamas government there, but we can't ignore the people. We will find ways to channel funds directly to the people."
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Fayad met here on Monday with the US consul-general in Jerusalem, Jake Walles, and urged him to exert pressure on Israel to release frozen tax revenues. Fayad also asked the US to lift financial sanctions imposed on the Palestinians ever since Hamas came to power in January 2006.
PA officials here expressed hope that the resumption of financial aid would bolster Fatah's standing among the Palestinians in the West Bank. They also called on Israel to offer the Palestinians a "political horizon" to boost the credibility of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah.
"Israel should reassess its entire policy now," said Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for Abbas. "If Israel wants to salvage the peace process, it must halt the construction of the fence and settlements and halt all its security measures in the West Bank, including detentions, assassinations and closures."
Abbas decided on Monday to form a new National Security Council without Hamas. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who served as Abbas's deputy in the previous council, was replaced by Fayad.
The decision is seen as yet another sign of the growing split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Haniyeh, who has dismissed Fayad's government as illegitimate, appointed his own security commanders in the Gaza Strip after firing all Fatah security chiefs.
Defiant Hamas leaders continued to scoff at Fayad's "emergency" cabinet and called on the international community not to deal with it.
They also warned against attempts to separate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip.
"The plans of [US security coordinator Maj. Gen. Keith] Dayton have gone to hell," said a statement issued by the Hamas leadership in Gaza City. Dayton, according to media reports, was responsible for US efforts to bolster Abbas's security forces ahead of a possible confrontation with Hamas.
Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel accused ousted Fatah security commanders of conspiring with the US and Israel to topple the Hamas-led government. "Hamas does not recognize the new cabinet that Dayton has formed in Ramallah," he said, referring to Fayad's 12-member cabinet that was sworn in on Sunday. "The situation in the Gaza Strip is now calm compared with the West Bank, where Fatah thugs and gangs belonging to [Fatah operative] Muhammad Dahlan are terrorizing the public." Former PA Justice Minister Nahed al-Rayyes of Fatah heaped praise on Hamas for "liberating the Gaza Strip from all the corrupt and criminal gangs." The Palestinians, he added, owe Hamas and its armed groups a lot for ridding the Gaza Strip of corrupt Fatah leaders. "We must thank Hamas for cleaning the Gaza Strip," he said. "They have prevented the Palestinians from falling into the hands of mafias and gangsters."
Fatah gunmen in the West Bank on Monday continued their attacks on Hamas figures and institutions.
In Ramallah, they raided and torched the home of Abdel Aziz Dweik, Speaker of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council, who is in an Israeli prison.
In Nablus, Fatah gunmen kidnapped Hassan Safarini, a top political leader of Hamas. Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, published the names of 32 Hamas figures in the city who are wanted by Fatah.
Hamas officials said more than 200 of their supporters and representatives had been kidnapped or detained in the West Bank over the past week. In addition, dozens of Hamas-affiliated institutions have been destroyed and looted by Fatah gunmen.
Meanwhile, tensions were mounting inside Fatah following the faction's defeat at the hands of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas promised on Monday to form a commission of inquiry to look into the reasons behind Fatah's collapse, while a number of Fatah leaders called for putting Dahlan on trial on charges of "destroying" Fatah.
In a statement from his Israeli prison cell, West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti called for the formation of a new leadership for Fatah in the Gaza Strip.
He also urged Abbas to get rid of the commanders of the PA security services and to appoint new heads capable of reforming these forces.
Barghouti condemned the "military coup" staged by Hamas as a serious threat to the unity of the Palestinian territories. "I consider this coup as a threat to the democratic experience and option upon which Hamas won in the elections," he said, voicing support for Fayad's new cabinet.