Ramallah Flash 90

Hundreds of Palestinian Arabs demonstrated on Saturday in Ramallah to demand that the Palestinian Authority (PA) lift punitive measures against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, AFP reported.

The demonstrators chanted "scrap the sanctions!" during the protests that were organized by civil society groups.

The Ramallah-based PA has introduced a series of measures against Gaza over the past year including, among others, a reduction in the salaries of public service employees.

In early June, Arabs rioted in Ramallah, demanding that the PA cabinet take action over the deteriorating situation in Gaza. Last week, an organization aimed at ending the PA punitive measures against Gaza announced a series of demonstrations this week, in cities such as Bethlehem, Beirut, Amman, New York and Amsterdam.

Both Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have expressed support for the anti-PA demonstrations. Hamas sees them as a means of exerting pressure on the PA to integrate Hamas and Islamic Jihad into the PLO institutions and hold general elections for the PLO and PA institutions with the participation of the Islamic organizations.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh just recently praised the demonstrations in Ramallah.

Hamas and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction have been at odds since a 2007 coup in which Hamas violently took control of Gaza. All attempts at reconciliation have failed to bear fruit.

The sides signed a reconciliation agreement in October, as part of which Hamas was to transfer power in Gaza by December 1. That deadline was initially put back by 10 days and then appeared to have been cancelled altogether after it reportedly hit “obstacles”.

Hamas recently denounced the PA cabinet led by Rami Hamdallah over its policy of "deceiving, creating tension and deliberately neglecting the needs of the residents of the Gaza Strip."

Last week, the PA government stated in response to the demonstrations in Ramallah that Hamas was responsible for the situation in Gaza.