Sunday, January 28, 2007

NEWS: Palestinian employee salaries bolster Hamas-led government, By Mohammed Mar'i

Salaries of Palestinian Servants Bolster Hamas-led Government
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish.)

The Palestinian public sector servants received Sunday, January 28, 2007 a complete salary for the first time since the formation of Hamas-led government ten months ago. The Servants used to receive 350 US$ down payments from the European Union and internal tax revenues to secure the basic needs for their families. Although the payments didn't resolve the internal economic crisis but they relieved the pressure exerted on Palestinian Government.

Following the triumph of Hamas in January 2006 elections, international sanctions, both political and financial, were imposed on its government to oblige it to abide by Quartet's demands: government must be committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the roadmap. The Palestinian Authority relied upon the international and Arab aid to pay the salaries of its servants. In an attempt to undermine the financial siege, Hamas leaders organized tours to some Arab and Islamic countries mainly Iran to raise money for the ostracized government. The raised money failed to be transferred to the Palestinian Finance Ministry due to the U. S. led embargo on banks not to transfer money to "Hamas terrorist government".

The European Union, which is the biggest donor to the PA, initiated a mechanism of financial grants to the Palestinian civil servants, especially teachers, health workers, and poor families with a goal of undermining support for Hamas within the Palestinian society. Their predictions that Hamas's popularity would drop in the Palestinian society have proven to be wrong. Many observers today admit that they were mistaken in their earlier assessments that Haniyeh's government would collapse as a result of the local and international pressure. It seems that the political and financial sanctions imposed by the international community not only have failed to bring down the Hamas-led government, but the international aid to the Palestinians increased by nearly 10 percent following Hamas's election victory, the United Nations under-secretary general for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari told the UN Security Council on Thursday, January 25, 2007 .

He said on the anniversary of Hamas's winning 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections that "aid to Palestinians in 2006 had actually increased, despite the reassessment of donor programs and the cessation of financial transfers by Israel to the Palestinians", adding that "most of the aid was bypassing the Palestinian government". He said in a UN press release that the "total assistance to Palestinians last year - not including funds channeled to the Palestinian Authority government or Hamas by regional donors - had been $1.2 billion, which represented a nearly 10% increase over 2005," a UN press release said .

Gambari said also that "humanitarian assistance alone had doubled since 2004 and primarily took the form of food aid and cash-for-work programs". The food and cash for work programs allowed around 35000 poor Palestinian families to get a monthly allowance.

The Abbas' Office played a great role in relieving pressure on Hamas Government. The international institutions, the European Union, and even Israel which transferred $100 million to the Palestinian Authority from the Palestinian tax revenues that have been frozen since the Hamas-led government came to power in the PA, transferred their fund to Abbas' Office account to bypass the Hamas government.

The US, European countries, and Fatah leaders pledged that Hamas would not stay in power for more than three of four months due to Palestinian public pressure after discovering that Hamas will not be able to run a government isolated politically and financially. But observers see that Hamas will not make any concessions or leave governance without a pressure from the Palestinian street. With a Palestinian people taking salaries and grants from international community and Israel via Abbas, there is no need change the Hamas Government.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at