Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to gradually cut financial support to the impoverished Gaza Strip “by 100 percent” until the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas agrees to reconcile with his ruling Fatah Party.
The Palestinian leader made the remarks in a meeting with the Israeli politician Zehava Gal-On, the chairperson of the Israeli left-wing Meretz political party, in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday.
“We transfer $1.5 billion a year [to Hamas in Gaza],” Abbas further said, according to a statement released by his office later in the day. He added that he had already slashed 25 percent of that amount.
The Fatah, chaired by Abbas, and Hamas are at loggerheads over a number of issues, which ultimately led to a split in the Palestinian Authority in 2007. A year earlier, Hamas had won parliamentary elections and since June 2007 it has been ruling over the Gaza Strip. During the past decade the movement has refused to reconcile with the Fatah and the row between the two still persists.
The PA has recently been under fire for imposing “punitive measures” against the Gaza Strip to squeeze the Gaza-based Hamas to relinquish control of the enclave. Among a series of stiff economic sanctions over Hamas is the reduction of electricity payments to Gaza, prompting Israel to drastically cut its electricity supply to the coastal sliver to less than four hours a day.
Abbas further warned on Monday that Hamas’s purported actions could drive a wedge between Gaza and the West Bank, adding that the absence of reconciliation between the two sides had created distrust in the Palestinian leadership.
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty there.
Israel has also launched several wars on the Palestinian sliver, the last of which began in early July 2014. The last Israeli military aggression, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians. Over 11,100 others were also wounded in the war.