Abbas stops funding Gaza electricity to pressure Hamas

Abbas stops funding Gaza electricity to pressure Hamas

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territory — The West Bank-based government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will stop paying for electricity in the power-starved Gaza Strip and “dry up” the flow of funds to the territory’s Hamas rulers, a senior official said Wednesday.

Hamas accused the Abbas government of irresponsible behaviour and warned that the announced cuts would be disastrous for Gaza’s 2 million residents.

Abbas and Hamas have led rival governments since the Islamic militant group seized Gaza in 2007, driving out forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian president.

After several failed reconciliation attempts, Abbas recently said he would pressure Hamas financially to force it to cede ground. The Palestinian leader was to meet Wednesday at the White House with President Donald Trump to discuss ways of restarting long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Steps against Hamas could bolster Abbas’ claims that he speaks for all Palestinians.

In the West Bank, a senior official said the Abbas government would stop paying for the electricity Israel sends to Gaza, worth at least $11 million a month.

Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the Civil Affairs Department, said Hamas profits because it collects electricity payments from Gaza residents. “We are not going to continue financing the Hamas coup in Gaza,” he told the Voice of Palestine radio station.

Al-Sheikh said the aim was to “dry up Hamas’ financial resources.” He said efforts would be made not to harm services to Gaza residents, but did not explain how that would be possible.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum accused Abbas of siding with Israel in trying to punish Hamas.

“Today, Abbas put himself in a confrontation with the Palestinian people,” Barhoum said. “Its consequences will be catastrophic and disastrous, not only for Hamas, as they think, but for all Gazans.”

Gaza residents have been enduring worsening power cuts — a result of border blockades by Israel and Egypt that were triggered by the Hamas takeover. Residents currently live with rolling blackouts — six hours on, 12 hours off — that have further crippled an economy devastated by conflict.

Israel supplies electricity from 10 power lines that cover about 30 per cent of Gaza’s needs. Israel deducts the money from the taxes and customs it collects on behalf of the Abbas government. Egypt provides some electricity, but supplies are less reliable.

Israel last week announced the Abbas government’s intention to stop paying for Gaza electricity. Al-Sheikh’s comments marked the first official Palestinian confirmation.

Ahmed Majdalani, an Abbas aide, said that as a next step, the West Bank government would sharply reduce the amount of medicine it ships to Gaza every month. Majdalani alleged that Hamas is “selling the medicine and collecting the money.”

He said that only “necessary medicine” would be sent directly to Gaza hospitals.

___

Associated Press writer Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip contributed to this report.

Mohammed Daraghmeh, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Terrace RCMP arrest Kitimat man for drug trafficking

A police investigation has led to the arrest of a Kitimat man… Continue reading

Terrace Fire Department announces new training program, increased calls in year-end report

All firefighters in Terrace are expected to complete training by the end of April 2018.

UPDATE: Prince Rupert woman killed in logging truck collision

Empty logging truck west of Terrace struck moose before colliding with the eastbound SUV

David Edwardsen sentenced to eight years in jail

Sentencing result of 14 drug and firearms convictions

Taking a virtual walk across Canada

The Kermode Friendship Society challenged their staff to participate in this year’s competition, which aims to promote physical activity, networking, and friendly competition.

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

VIDEO: Protesters rally for affordable housing ahead of B.C. budget

Residents call on province to keep locals housed

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Liberals to dig deeper, aim higher on gender equality in 2018 federal budget

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the budget would include measures to boost women in the workforce

Body of missing skier found

Man’s truck found in Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s parking lot covered in ‘several days’ snow’

Thrilling finish to 59th All Native Tournament

Kitamaat, Hydaburg, Port Simpson and Kitkatla win championships in 2018 All Native Tournament

B.C. VIEWS: Subsidy supercluster settles in B.C.

Ottawa, Victoria add to their overlapping ‘innovation’ budgets

Most Read