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PA orders former civil servants in Gaza to resume posts, angering Hamas

Nov. 28, 2017 6:15 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 29, 2017 3:56 P.M.)
Hamas rally in Gaza (File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Tuesday called on all of its former civil servants in Gaza -- who were forced out of work following Hamas’ June 2007 takeover of the territory -- to return back to work in their former posts, casting doubt on the future of tens of thousands of Hamas-hired employees in Gaza, and the status of last month's landmark reconciliation agreement.

Both the Fatah-led PA and its rival faction Hamas signed a national reconciliation agreement last month, promising the handover of power in gaza from Hamas to the PA by December 1st.

A key sticking point in the agreement has been the fate of between 40,000 and 50,000 civil servants that have been hired by Hamas since the faction took over Gaza in 2007 from 7 0,000 PA employees who were forced out of their positions but have still been receiving their salaries -- albeit erratically.

Ramallah ultimately cut those salaries in April by up to 30 percent -- one of the first of a number of punitive measures taken against Gazans aiming to pressure Hamas to give up control of the besieged coastal enclave. In July, the PA further pushed more than 6,00 civil servants into early retirement amid the increasingly bitter feud.

Unconfirmed reports previously said that some Fatah leaders discussed the party's ability to take on only some 8,000 employees from the Gaza Strip, but Hamas insists that the issue should be solved in a way that maintains all of the 40,000 employees’ full rights.

In response to Tuesday’s announcement by the PA, Hamas called the decision a "violation" of pre-existing agreements between the two sides.

According to international media reports, the reconciliation agreement said the factions would solve the issue of the employees by February 2018, until which time the PA is due to pay the salaries of the Hamas employees.

The PA officially took over administrative control from Hamas of the border crossings in the besieged Gaza Strip earlier this month, as part of the continued transfer of power from Hamas to the Palestinian unity government.

Numerous attempts have been made in the past to reconcile Hamas and Fatah since they came into violent conflict in 2007.

In addition to resolving the issue of legislative elections and civil servants, other key issues, such as the status of Hamas’ military wing, have remained unclear.

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