The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Monday denied reports that it was planning to pay the salaries of Hamas employees this Wednesday.
Earlier, Hamas spokesperson Mousa Abu Marzouk said that the PA had agreed to pay the salaries, claiming the salary payment is a tenet of the ceasefire Hamas and Israel agreed to last Tuesday.
According to Abu Marzouk the PA agreed to pay the salaries, and was being backed in its decision by Washington.
However, the PA's Finance Ministry in Ramallah said it had no information or instructions about making such payments, and was not planning to do so. A PA source said that Hamas terrorists in Gaza were to be given grants, not salaries – and that no date for this payment had been made as yet.
Some 40,000 Hamas members in Gaza are supposed to get paid, with the outlay being 30-40 million shekels per month.
Qatar reportedly had promised to give the PA $25 million per month for the next six months for the payment of the salaries, but the PA and its banks refused to accept the money, out of concern of being placed under sanctions for transferring money to a recognized terror organization.
A growing wage war
Tensions in the wage war began with the PA-Hamas unity deal in April, after which Hamas's 40,000 employees in Gaza still were not paid backlogged wages by the new unity government even as the PA's 70,000 employees in Gaza continue to be paid.
Soon violence spilled over, with Hamas shutting down all the banks in Gaza for roughly a week, until in June a financial bail-out from Qatar temporarily stemmed the crisis; however, Hamas's launching a terror war on Israel early in July apparently put off the salary payments even further.
A PA official speaking on condition of anonymity said the PA is waiting to ensure that such payments to members of the internationally recognized terrorist group do not jeopardize international aid to the PA, reports the Palestinian Arab Ma'an News Agency.
"Hamas is regarded as a terrorist organization by many abroad. The government wants to obtain guarantees that it is allowed to pay these wages," said the source.
Ironically, even without the Hamas link there has been wide criticism that international funding of the PA already goes directly to funding terror, given its generous bankrolling of convicted terrorists. PA officials have revealed the organization is using deceit to dupe donors and continue funding terror.