Photo Credit: Thair alhassany / Flash 90
Street life in the Gaza Strip

The Palestinian Authority is determined to “dry up” all sources of funding for the Hamas government in Gaza, Dr. Ahmad Majdalani, member of the PLO Executive Committee told Al-Hayat Sunday.

The official told Al-Hayat that Israel did not respond this month to an official request by the Palestinian Authority to stop deducting the cost of electricity provided to Gaza—$11 million a month—from the monthly PA customs and taxes revenues.

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According to the Protocol on Economic Relations, a.k.a. the Paris Protocol, signed by Israel and the PLO in April 1994, Israel collects and transfers to the Palestinian Authority the import taxes on goods that were shipped there, and the income taxes collected from PA residents employed in Israel and the Israeli settlements.

Majdalani said that at the end of last month the Authority had officially requested Israel to stop deducting the cost of Gaza’s electricity consumption from the PA revenues it collects, but Israel chose to ignore the request.

“We were surprised to discover that Israel, at the beginning of this month, deducted 40 million shekels ($11 million), and we expressed our objection to it,” the official told Al-Hayat.

“We pay Israel for the electricity consumption in Gaza, while Hamas collects money from consumers and transfers those funds to its own budget,” the official said. “The PA has decided to stop financing the Hamas ‘coup’ in Gaza and we will reiterate the demand that Israel stop deducting funds from our revenues in favor of Hamas and its coup.”

In June 2007, Hamas fighters took complete control over the Gaza Strip, following a week of clashes between Hamas and Fatah, resulting from the firing of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas) by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Fatah). The firing took place in the aftermath of Fatah’s losing the parliamentary elections of 2006. In the Battle of Gaza of 2007, which, for once, did not involve Israel, Hamas fighters then took control of the Strip and removed all the Fatah officials from their offices, some of them via their rooftops.

Last month, the Palestinian Authority announced a series of steps to cut spending in the Gaza Strip in order to “dry up” sources of funding for Hamas rule. These steps started with the deduction of 30 percent of the salaries of its 60,000 employees, who were dismissed from work in the Gaza Strip, followed by demanding that Israel stop providing electricity to Gaza, for which the PA is paying.

Al-Hayat cited observers who believe Israel is reluctant to increase the humanitarian crisis in Gaza even more, but the PA is determined to press ahead with pressure on Hamas to weaken it. As always, the Abbas government would threaten Israel that if it fails to make the people of Gaza more miserable, the PA would stop collaborating with Israel over security in Judea and Samaria.

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