The Palestinian Authority has decided not to fire 6,000 workers in Hamas-controlled Gaza, the PA’s Wafa news agency said Sunday. Quoting PA officials, the report said that “after discussions with President Mahmoud Abbas it has been decided to allow the workers in the education and health areas who had asked to resign to continue in their jobs.” The decision was made “in order to allow for the delivery of services to Gaza residents.”
The move to fire the workers had been announced last month, and was seen as part of Abbas’s pressure on Hamas, which has now been running Gaza for a decade after taking over the Strip in 2007. No elections have been held in the PA during that entire period, and the status quo has remained intact, with the Fatah-affiliated PA government run by Abbas in charge of PA-controlled areas in Yehudah and Shomron, and Hamas controlling Gaza.
With that, Fatah and the PA have never stopped demanding that Hamas relinquish control of Gaza back to Ramallah, and in recent months Abbas has taken numerous steps to force Hamas’s hand, including cutting back on payments for electricity and slashing salaries for workers that PA pays. The dismissal of the 6,000-some workers was seen as another part of that pressure campaign. However, international officials, including the United Nations, have expressed concerns that firing the workers, mostly teachers and medical staff, could reduce the standard of living in Gaza even further – and as a result, said Yediot Acharonot, Abbas has apparently backed down.
PA officials have declared that they were tired of sharing the blame for Hamas’ terror activities because it makes them look bad with the new administration in the U.S. Money that is transferred to Gaza as humanitarian aid – including money to pay for basic services – is used to build terror tunnels and pay terrorists. Channel Two quoted PA officials as saying the ongoing terror activities of Hamas is damaging their standing with the new administration in Washington, and that they would no longer pay for those activities.