Hamas says will settle Gaza salary dispute and pay employees in Strip

Announcement comes after Palestinian “national consensus” government rejects calls for paying the wages.

Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech during Friday prayers, September 5, 2014.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech during Friday prayers, September 5, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas announced on Wednesday that it would pay salaries to its employees in the Gaza Strip after the Palestinian “national consensus” government rejected calls for paying the wages.
The announcement came amid ongoing tensions between the two parties over the salaries of Gazan civil servants.
Hamas employs more than 40,000 civil servants in the Strip who haven’t received payment for several months.
Hamas was hoping that the Palestinian government would pay the wages.
The Palestinian Authority, however, employs about 80,000 civil servants who continue to receive full salaries, though they have not worked since Hamas seized control over Gaza in 2007.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, said that it does not recognize the Hamas employees, whom it described as illegitimate workers.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri reacted angrily to its Gaza Strip employees being described in that manner. He said that such remarks serve to consolidate the division between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Zuhri was referring to statements made on Tuesday by Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Mustafa, of the national consensus government, which was established following the signing of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal last April.
“Mustafa and his ilk should lower their heads when they talk about the brave people of the Gaza Strip,” the Hamas spokesman said.
The Hamas-controlled Finance Ministry in the Strip said that its employees would receive half of their salaries as of Thursday.
Yusef al-Kayali, deputy finance minister, said that the employees would receive a minimum of NIS 1,000 and maximum of NIS 4,500 each.
He said that the employees would be able to draw their money from local banks and post offices.
Earlier this week, Hamas announced that it had distributed $32 million to families who lost sons or houses in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.
Despite the rising tensions between Hamas and Fatah in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, representatives of the two rival parties are expected to meet at the end of this month to resolve their differences, Palestinian sources said on Wednesday.
The tensions erupted after Fatah accused Hamas militias in the Gaza Strip of placing hundreds of Fatah men under house arrest during the operation and shooting those who defied the order.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas revealed last weekend that Hamas shot and killed 120 Fatah activists during the operation under the pretext that they had violated the curfew.