Hamas says government violated reconciliation terms
On Monday, Hamas slammed the Palestinian government in a wages dispute, demanding that president Mahmoud Abbas step in to ensure the Islamist movement's Gaza-based government workers were paid.
The row, the first hitch for a new unity government sworn in last week, came to a head on Thursday when Hamas government workers clashed with their Palestinian Authority (PA)-employed rivals after the latter were paid and the former were not.
Hamas employees were expecting the PA to start paying them immediately after the reconciliation deal.
Hamas demanded that the PA take employees of the disbanded Gaza government onto its payroll, after scuffles broke out at banks in the Palestinian territory.
"(Prime minister Rami) Hamdallah's government is not behaving well and made a mistake regarding its employees. It is violating the clauses of the reconciliation agreements," senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya told journalists in Gaza.
"We demand that the president, Abu Mazen (Abbas), not hesitate in instructing the national consensus government to quickly pay the salaries of Gaza (government) employees, all of whom are under the leadership of Hamdallah," he said.
The unity deal, ending seven years of rival administrations in the two territories, was unveiled last week and called for the formation of a unity government of technocrats to run Palestinian affairs in Gaza and the West Bank until legislative polls are held within six months.
"We never expected ordinary people's livelihoods to be the first stumbling block on the road towards [Palestinian national] reconciliation," al-Hayeh said at Monday's press conference in Gaza City.
Hamas's 50,000 civil servants are not registered as PA employees because they were appointed after the Islamist movement ousted Abbas loyalists from Gaza in 2007.
But Hamas has been unable to pay most of its workers for several months, after severe pressure from neighbouring Egypt strangled its cashflow.
The PA said it would "study" the possibility of taking the Hamas workforce onto its payroll.
Since 2006, the Gaza Strip has groaned under an all-out Israeli blockade that has deprived the coastal enclave's roughly 1.8 million inhabitants of their most basic needs and forced thousands of workers into unemployment.