The Palestinian Authority has reportedly cut the salaries of 37 Hamas-affiliated lawmakers in the West Bank, as part of a series of measures believed by many to be an attempt to force the terror group to relinquish control of the Gaza Strip.
According to senior Hamas official and First Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Ahmed Bahar, the MPs, who belong to Hamas’s Change and Reform bloc in the West Bank, were informed by the PA Finance Ministry that they would no longer be receiving their salaries.
Bahar told the Palestinian news site Safa on Sunday: “The Finance Ministry in Ramallah informed 37 representatives of the Change and Reform bloc [Hamas] of the cutting of their salaries and confirmed to them that they won’t receive their salaries this month”.
Although the Palestinian Parliament has not operated since 2007 following a battle between Hamas and Fatah, MPs have been receiving their monthly salaries ever since.
Bahar called the decision “a declaration of war on the legislative council and its democratically elected representatives”.
This move follows a pattern of decisions taken by PA President Mahmoud Abbas over the past few weeks in order to pressure Hamas to cede control of the Gaza Strip. The PA has slashed the salaries of PA employees in Gaza, refused to pay for the electricity supply to the area, and cut medical budgets.
The Palestinian Authority argues, along with Israel, that Hamas puts taxes it collects into its own coffers and terror infrastructure, while Ramallah pays the bills to keep Gaza’s institutions and infrastructure running.
In an interview published in the Pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat on Sunday, Abbas said he would make a decision on whether to impose “immediate financial sanctions” on Hamas’s leadership should it continue what he called “the coup on the institutions of the state of Palestine in Ramallah.” He did not make clear how he would implement them or what the nature of those sanctions would be.
Gaza has been controlled by the terror group Hamas since 2007, who carried out a violent war against Fatah to take absolute control of the Strip, following elections in 2006 which Hamas won.