Iran, Others Propping Up Hamas

Some 75% of the Hamas budget for Gaza in 2012 is slated to come from foreign donors, most notably Iran.

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Gabe Kahn,

Israel news photo: Flash 90

Hamas on Monday approved a Gaza budget for 2012 which is up 25 percent from last year, indicating donors including Iran are still heavily funding the terror group.

The chief of Hamas' budget committee Jamal Nassar told al-Arabiya the budget will be $769 million, compared to $630 million in 2011.

But analysts say the increased budget does not mean all is well with Hamas, mired deep in a fiscal crisis, as it feuds with the Palestinian Authority over tax revenues.

The most recent row between Hamas and Fatah came after a deal struck between the Fatah-run PA in Ramallah and Egypt aimed at resolving Gaza's electricity crisis.

The deal, which would see diesel fuel for operating Gaza's power plant shipped via Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing, was rejected by Hamas.

Hamas' objection was largely rooted in the fact that, under the deal, Israel would remit tax revenues from imported gas to the PA rather than Hamas.

Under the previous regimen, wherein all fuel was smuggled into Gaza from Sinai via Hamas-controlled tunnels, Hamas was able to demand a cut of the profits.

Hamas fighters in Gaza routed their Fatah rivals in a bloody putsch in 2007 and have been burdened with running the coastal enclave ever since.

Meanwhile, Nassar admitted Sunday that just one-quarter of the Hamas budget for 2012 is from local revenues.

A second official told al-Arabiya on condition of anonymity that the rest comes from "Palestinian expatriates," Iran and benefactors in the Muslim world.

However, Arab countries – like their Western counterparts – have routinely failed to deliver on their pledges to both Hamas and the PA since the Arab Spring erupted early last year.

The salaries of about 30,000 civil servants paid by Hamas are often deposited late due to lack of funds.

When the new budget was drafted in December, the figure was to include “$405 million for salaries, compared to 298 million in the budget last year,” Ismail Mahfuz of the Hamas finance ministry told AFP.

Main areas of expenditure were to be “security, public order, social services and education, which represent around 62 percent of the total budget,” Mahfuz added, estimating tax revenues of $174 million for the coming year.

Observers note that – despite claims they are ready for statehood – both Hamas and the PA remain fiscally insolvent and completely dependent on charity for their survival.