Abbas halts payments to Hamas lawmakers

Pressure tactic? Hamas-affiliated lawmakers say the PA failed to pay their salaries.

Elad Benari ,

Hamas terrorist in Gaza
Hamas terrorist in Gaza
Emad Nassar/Flash 90

Several Hamas-affiliated lawmakers said on Sunday that the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) had failed to pay the salaries of 37 Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members, the Ma'an news agency reported.

PLC member Ayman Daraghma told the news agency on Sunday evening that he and 36 other Hamas MPs had not been paid their June salary.

Daraghma added that when he contacted the PA Ministry of Finance regarding the issue, “a ministry official told me unofficially that the PA had decided to stop paying (Hamas MPs’) salaries,” without providing further explanation.

Daraghma added that, with the exception of Ibrahim Dahbour, all Hamas-affiliated lawmakers imprisoned by Israel had received their salaries.

He went on to say that the affected MPs had sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance asking for an explanation, adding that they were ready to take their case to human rights groups.

"We are representatives of the people and should be officially notified of such a decision,” Hamas MP Hatem Qafisha told Ma'an. “We have legal steps to take and will go to the legal adviser of the Ministry of Finance if the decision to stop paying us salaries is confirmed."

A spokesman for the PA Ministry of Finance told Ma’an that, as an executive authority, the ministry “isn't authorized to officially comment about salaries."

The news on the Hamas lawmakers comes a week after the PA decided to force more than 6,000 employees in Gaza into early retirement, in its latest attempt to squeeze the Hamas-controlled territory.

The PA also caused anger in April after cutting salaries to its Gaza-based employees by up to 30 percent.

Hamas and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah have been at odds since 2007, when Hamas violently took control of Gaza in a bloody coup.

A unity government between Hamas and Fatah collapsed in 2015 when Abbas decided to dissolve it amid a deepening rift between the sides.

Since the unity government was dissolved, Hamas and Fatah have held several rounds of reconciliation talks in Doha, Qatar – but with no success.

Fatah recently finally acknowledged that it has no control over Gaza and is now trying to force it to return control of the enclave by creating economic pressure on the group.