Hamas Holds Independent Parliament Meeting in Gaza

Hamas-affiliated parliament members reactivate the Gaza parliament, which had been suspended since the unity deal with Fatah.

Ben Ariel,

Hamas terrorists in Gaza parade
Hamas terrorists in Gaza parade
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

In yet another sign that the Hamas-Fatah unity government is dysfunctional, Hamas-affiliated parliament members in Gaza on Wednesday reactivated the coastal enclave's parliament, which had been suspended since the unity deal was agreed upon in April.

According to the Ma’an news agency, the convening of the session, which was attended exclusively by Hamas legislators, represents a major eruption of tensions within the Palestinian coalition government and presents yet another hurdle for officials trying to hold the agreement together.

The deputy speaker of the Gaza parliament, Ahmad Bahar, delivered a speech at the beginning of the session in which he warned of a possible "blowup" in Gaza as a result of, among other things, the delay in reconstruction the Palestinian Authority's failure to pay monthly salaries to civil servants employed under the former Hamas government.

"A blowup is at a distance of two-bows length or less if the international community does not take action to end the suffering of the people of Gaza," he warned, according to Ma’an.

Bahar slammed the national consensus government for keeping itself aloof from the suffering of the Palestinian people to such a degree that they had decided to sacrifice the Gaza employees in an "oppressive" manner.

His comments on the employees dispute comes after days of back and forth between the PA and the Gaza, as the PA has employed its own personnel in Gaza and has refused to take responsibility for the approximately 50,000 employees from the former-Hamas run government, a key Hamas demand.

Bahar also criticized PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for his participation in the recent Paris rally against terrorism in his speech.

Abbas, he said, should have instead invited the world leaders to "confront Israel's terrorism."

"Or maybe tens of thousands of destroyed houses and martyrs over the past years are worthless compared to the victims who fell in France!"

The Fatah movement said it considered the parliament session in Gaza a unilateral move by the Hamas bloc and a negative step back from reconciliation.

Fatah-affiliated lawmaker Faisal Abu Shahla told Ma'an that holding a session without any of the other factions present indicates that "partnership according to Hamas means that Hamas can do whatever it wants and whenever it wants and all others should only be supportive."

Abu Shahla slammed the criticism against Abbas, adding, "President Abbas is an elected president, so how could he be attacked and accused at the Palestinian parliament!"

The convening of the parliament comes a day after employees of the former Hamas-run government entered a cabinet meeting of the unity government taking place in Gaza in protest at their lack of payment in the last eight months. They also announced they were launching a hunger strike.

Hamas employees were enraged in June when the new unity government did not pay their salaries at the start of the month, despite the 70,000 PA employees in Gaza being able to withdraw their paychecks. The rage boiled over into fistfights, with Hamas eventually shutting down all the banks in Gaza for roughly a week.

Partial payments of $1,200 each were made to 24,000 Hamas civil servants in late October. But the other 26,000, who work in security functions, have received nothing.

The ongoing dispute over salaries is the latest in a series of signs that the Hamas-Fatah government is slowly crumbling.

The reconciliation attempt has been rocked by tensions, most notably Hamas's attempt to stage a violent coup in Judea and Samaria against the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri recently said that the six-month mandate of the unity government agreed on in April and established in June had ended. He was preceded by the head of Hamas’s politburo, Khaled Mashaal, who said that the Palestinian reconciliation "scene" was not satisfying.




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