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

Death-penalty decision delayed for alleged cold-case killer

William Talbott is charged here in the 1987 slaying of a young Victoria-area couple

Group pushing to preserve Saanich Hydro land as park

Neighbours petitioning to buy surplus land on Kings Road

View Royal Park sign taken down after glitch redirects to pornographic website

Resident looking to learn more about workout equipment discovered the problem code

Victoria General Hospital reopens operating rooms ahead of schedule after flood damage

Four delivery and four operating rooms were affected by a broken water valve

Emergency crews responding to incident in Goldstream Provincial Park

Delays in both directions on the Trans-Canada Highway in Langford

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

Police to provide update on case against alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur

McArthur worked as a landscaper, allegedly concealed the remains of seven men in planters

Premiers to wrap up 2 days of meetings at New Brunswick seaside resort

Meetings held in the scenic seaside town of St. Andrews on Thursday focused on trade

B.C. city wants pot punted from farmland

Concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Saanich balances need for sewer with rural protection

A Saanich councillor says the public does not need to be concerned… Continue reading

FRESH IDEA: Victoria tech firm beneficiary of streamlined government system

Software developer FreshWorks awarded $1.5-million contract using new bid program

Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

U.S president had suggested that auto imports pose a national security risk to the U.S.

Most Read