Gaza employees receive partial pay

Palestinian government workers lined up at post offices in Gaza on Monday to receive cash that members of the Hamas-led administration hand-carried into the territory to sidestep a Western aid boycott.

    Non-payment of wages had led to violent protests

    "This is only an injection to put us to sleep and then wake up in pain again," said a government employee who gave his name only as Abu Abdallah.
       
    He was one of 90,000 workers on the Palestinian Authority payroll allocated $300 as partial payment after more than three months without wages.
       
    Economic hardship has deepened in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip since Western donor nations froze aid to the Palestinian government after Hamas, an Islamic group dedicated to Israel's destruction, came to power in March.
      
    Fearing a humanitarian crisis, the European Union is trying to set up a mechanism to distribute aid directly to some Palestinians, bypassing the Hamas-led Authority.
       
    At the same time, Palestinian faction heads were meeting in Gaza City to work out differences over a manifesto envisaging a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
       
    Rival faction leaders have said an agreement seemed near, though Hamas spokesmen have insisted they would not recognise the Jewish state.

    Payouts
          
    Omar Abdel-Razek, the Palestinian finance minister, said the government had begun paying $300 to employees in the Gaza Strip who earned less than 1,500 shekels ($326).
       
    "Tomorrow or the day after, we will pay those in the West Bank with the same salaries," he told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
       
    The money was paid through the government-owned Postal Bank. Palestinian commercial banks have refused to handle Authority funds, fearing the United States may impose sanctions on them.
       
    Abdel-Razek said the $27 million in partial payouts included cash Hamas officials and cabinet ministers carried in suitcases across the border from Egypt into Gaza in the past few weeks.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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