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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rami Hamdallah’

Will the West Fund Hamas?

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Less than a week after its inauguration, the Hamas-Fatah unity government is already facing its first crisis as it remains unclear which party will pay salaries to tens of thousands of Hamas employees in the Gaza Strip.

It turns out that Hamas was hoping that the reconciliation deal it signed with Fatah in April, which led to the formation of the unity government, would absolve the Islamist movement of its financial obligations toward its employees.

That plan was, in fact, the main reason Hamas agreed to the reconciliation accord with Fatah. Over the past few years, Hamas has been facing a severe financial crisis, particularly in the wake of Egypt’s decision to destroy smuggling tunnels along its border with the Gaza Strip.

Hamas says that the new unity government is responsible for paying the salaries of its employees, but Fatah and Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas insist that this is not their responsibility.

The dispute between the two parties erupted into violence last week when hundreds of angry Hamas employees attacked a number of banks in the Gaza Strip after discovering that the unity government had failed to pay their salaries.

The Hamas employees also attacked PA civil servants who arrived to collect their salaries, which were transferred to their bank accounts by the unity government.

In response, thousands of PA civil servants, who were unable to withdraw their salaries, staged a protest in the Gaza Strip at which they accused Hamas “militias” of closing the banks and preventing them from receiving their money.

General Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank, strongly condemned the attacks on the banks and civil servants, which he said was carried out by Hamas “thugs.”

Earlier this week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas added fuel to the fire when he declared, during a visit to Cairo, that he does not intend to pay salaries to Hamas employees before the two parties reach an agreement on who is ultimately responsible for paying them.

Abbas said that more than 58% of the PA budget was already going to the Gaza Strip. Most of the funds were being paid as salaries to PA civil servants who lost their jobs after Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip in 2007, he disclosed.

The dispute over money between Hamas and Fatah shows that each group signed the reconciliation agreement for its own interests.

Hamas was hoping that the unity government would rid it of its financial crisis and lay the burden on Abbas. Hamas is now telling Abbas, “If you want a unity government headed by your prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, then you should also be responsible for paying salaries to our employees, especially in light of our agreement to dissolve the Hamas government.”

Abbas, for his part, was hoping that the reconciliation deal with Hamas would allow him to show the world that he represents not only the West Bank, but also the Gaza Strip.

In other words, Abbas’s deal with Hamas is aimed at showing the world that he is a legitimate president who represents all Palestinians, and not just a powerless leader of parts of the West Bank that are controlled by his Palestinian Authority.

One thing is certain: both Hamas and Fatah hope to use the unity government as a ploy to attract financial aid from the international community, particularly Western donors. The unity government, which is backed by Fatah and Hamas (designated a terrorist organization by the U.S.), actually serves as a front for receiving funds from the international community for both parties .

Abbas, however, has realized that Western donors are not going to fund a government that pays salaries to thousands of Hamas employees, including members of the movement’s armed wing, Ezaddin al-Kassam.

Meanwhile, the PA and Hamas have turned to some Arab countries for help. According to Palestinian sources, the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, has promised to pay the salaries of the Hamas employees for a limited time. But it is not clear whether the emir will continue to channel funds to the unity government in the coming months.

Hamdallah, the prime minister of the new unity government, says he is now planning a tour of several Arab countries in a bid to convince their leaders to provide the Palestinians with financial aid.

Even if Hamdallah succeeds in getting a few hundred million dollars from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, the crisis over the salaries of the Hamas employees will continue to hover over his head.

This, of course, does not bode well for the future of the reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah. All that is left for the two parties to do now is to try to persuade the Western donors to increase their financial aid to the unity government in order to solve the crisis over the wages of the Hamas employees.

It remains to be seen whether American and European taxpayers will agree to pay salaries to thousands of Hamas civil servants and militiamen in the Gaza Strip, who have not renounced their intent to commit acts of terrorism or destroy Israel.

Palestinians Accuse Peace Negotiators of Treason

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

At the request of the Palestinian Authority leadership, the first round of peace talks with Israel, which was launched in Jerusalem on August 14, was held away from the media spotlight.

The Palestinian Authority leadership requested that no journalist or photographer be permitted to cover the meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

Even the location of the peace talks was kept a secret, again at the request of the Palestinian Authority leadership.

The Palestinian Authority’s request for secrecy in the peace talks does not stem from its desire to secure the success of the negotiations.

It is not as if the Palestinian Authority is saying: We care so much about the peace talks that we prefer to avoid media coverage in order to make sure that the peace process succeeds.

The main reason the Palestinian Authority does not want the media to cover the peace talks is related to its fear of the reactions of Palestinians and the Arab world.

Mahmoud Abbas is already facing widespread opposition among Palestinians to his controversial decision — which was taken under heavy pressure from US Secretary of State John Kerry — to return to the negotiating table with Israel.

When the heads of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams, Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat, met in Washington earlier this month to announce the launching of the peace talks, many Palestinians and Arabs seized the opportunity to ridicule Erekat and accuse the Palestinian Authority leadership of treason.

A photo of Erekat and Livni standing together in Washington has since been exploited by Facebook and Twitter activists to hurl insults and profanity at the chief Palestinian negotiator.

Palestinian sources in Ramallah said that Erekat felt so offended by the insults and obscene language directed against him that he decided that there was no need for “photo op” with Livni or any other Israeli.

Both Abbas and Erekat are fully aware of the growing opposition among Palestinians and Arabs to the resumption of the peace talks with Israel under the terms of the US Administration.

That is why the two men do not want to be seen sitting in a room with any Israeli representative. They know that any photo of Erekat and Livni shaking hands or sitting together would provide their enemies with additional ammunition.

Those who think that the opposition to the peace talks is coming only from Hamas and other radical groups are either ignorant or turning a blind eye to the reality.

When Abbas agreed to resume the peace talks with Israel, he went against the recommendation of the PLO leadership, whose members rejected Kerry’s attempts to force the Palestinian Authority president to abandon two of his pre-conditions — namely, that Israel accept the pre-1967 lines as the basis for negotiations and freeze all construction in settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Last week, the PLO officials once again reminded Abbas of their opposition to the peace talks.

During an August 15 meeting in Ramallah, several PLO leaders told Abbas that they remained opposed “in principle” to the idea of resuming peace talks with Israel under the current circumstances.

The only Palestinian official who has come out in public to voice support for Abbas’s move is the powerless Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah.

Abbas and Erekat know that Hamdallah’s public endorsement of the peace talks does not carry any weight. After all, Hamdallah is an unelected public servant with no grassroots support or political base.

To further complicate matters for Abbas and Erekat, several Palestinian factions are now in the process of forming a “national alliance” the main goal of which is to thwart any deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This rejectionist front will consist of various PLO and other factions and organizations and could create many problems for the Palestinian Authority.

But there is another reason why the Palestinian Authority leadership does not want media coverage of the peace talks. For many years, the Palestinian Authority has been supporting boycott campaigns against Israel, as well as organizations combating “normalization” with Israelis.

If Palestinian children are condemned for playing football with Israelis, why should it be acceptable for Erekat to be talking with Livni?

Palestinian Authority leaders can only blame themselves for the growing opposition to the peace talks with Israel. Palestinian leaders have simply not prepared their people for peace. These leaders have, instead, delegitimized Israel to a point where it has become a “crime” for any Palestinian to be photographed talking to, or negotiating with, any Israeli.

Abbas Surrenders to Reality, Accepts Prime Minister’s Resignation

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

The Palestinian Authority “now you see him, now you don’t” prime minister finally got his way Sunday when PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas  accepted his resignation, two days after Rami Hamdallah reportedly retracted his “I quit” Tweet.

Hamdallah, was president of  the Al-Najah University in Shechem, was not happy being a figurehead, carrying responsibility without authority.

After less than three weeks since accepting the appointment, he saw the handwriting on the wall and quit last Thursday because of an argument with two of his deputies whom he had appointed.

Abbas met with all Hamdallah and the deputies on Saturday, causing reports that the prime minister agreed to stay on the job. Abbas’ failure to settle the rift left him no choice other than to accept the resignation, the second prime minister to resign in three months.

Salam Fayyad was at constant odds with Abbas and resigned in mid-April following the PA finance minister’s resignation, which Fayyad accepted but Abbas did not.

Fayyad was virtually hand-picked several years ago by the United States, where he learned and worked as an economist.

Fayyad added a bit of polish to Abbas’ crude but effective diplomatic war against Israel, which in his mind was so successful that he could thumb his nose at the Obama administration and put the final nail in the coffin of the American government’s international golden calf, otherwise known as the peace process.

Now Abbas has lost a university president as prime minister, on the eve of U.S. Secretary of State John Kelly’s fifth visit to Israel since taking office earlier this year.

So what did the folks at the State Dept. have to say about last week’s resignation?

It trusts the Palestinian Authority’s tremendous democracy, where Abbas has been serving beyond his designated term for five years with no signs of elections.

”We have a longstanding commitment to support Palestinian institution-building. And whatever happens, it’s important that the Palestinian Authority government remain committed to that effort of institution-building,” said State Dept. spokesman Patrick Ventrell.

PA Prime Minister’s Twitter Account Says it All

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Rumors began circulating early Thursday morning, June 20, that the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, had tendered his resignation.  Hamdallah had only been appointed to the position a little over two weeks ago.

An enterprising journalist noticed that Hamdallah’s official twitter account, @Palestinegov, stated all there was to say about Hamdallah’s career as prime minister.

There are two tweets, one announcing his appointment, on June 4, and the second and final one, on June 20, announcing that he had handed his “resignation to the President of the PA.  Official note will be released soon.  R.H.”

It is unclear whether there will ever be another tweet on this account, but in the 12 hours between the time this account was copied for posterity and the time this article was published, Mr. Hamdallah’s Twitter followers swelled from 102 to 170.

Leading Middle East Journalist: New PA PM Has Resigned

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Khaled abu Toameh, who for years has been the leading journalist reporting accurately on the Palestinian Authority, its many divisions and opponents, as well as the situation in general in Israel and the wider Middle East posted on his Facebook page the bombshell that the brand new Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Rami Hamdallah, has resigned.

According to abu Toameh, Hamdallah was unhappy with efforts by Palestian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to curtail Hamdallah’s powers.

The 55 year old Hamdallah was named PA Prime Minister by Abbas earlier this month, following the resignation of the west’s favorite Arab Palestinian politician, Salam Fayyad, earlier this spring. It is not yet clear whether Hamdallah’s resignation was accepted by Abbas.

How much this news – either that Hamdallah has resigned or that he is attempting to -  will affect the relentless efforts of the U.S. to force forward the “peace talks” remains to be seen.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/leading-middle-east-journalist-new-pa-pm-has-resigned/2013/06/20/

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