PA Changeover in Gaza Behind Schedule

Palestinian security forces at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Implementation of the Palestinian unity agreement has fallen behind schedule, as transfer of control of Gaza from Hamas to the Palestinian Authority remains largely theoretical as deadlines approach.

Palestinian Authority Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh stated on Sunday that a mere five percent of the territory has changed hands, even though the full changeover is supposed to be completed by December 1.

“The [PA] government until this moment, financially, administratively and security-wise, has not been set up [in Gaza] more than five percent,” Sheikh told the official PA news. That means, he said, that PA officials have not been able to return to their old offices, nor has it been able to assume authority for tax collecting. The PA has been “collecting crumbs” at the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, he said.

Although the border crossings were officially transferred to the PA on November 1, effective control has been impeded by lack of security, and the crossing have been mostly closed since then.

“Our crews are barefoot at the crossings,” he said, “setting up the [PA government] at the crossings is compromised by the lack of security.”

There are reportedly about 120 unarmed members of the PA security forces at Gaza’s crossings with Israel and Egypt. Meanwhile, Hamas has still refused to disarm, a provision of the agreement.

Salah Bardawil, a senior member Hamas’s negotiating team with Fatah, rejected the complaints, saying: “You’ve received the ministries, the authorities and the border crossings. Show the people what’s the 95 percent you haven’t received,” he said.

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