(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Hamas MPs in Gaza held an exclusive meeting yesterday apparently defying the Palestinian Authority and criticised President Mahmoud Abbas, in a further sign of a failing unity pact.
They were meeting for the first time since the April unity deal, which ostensibly put an end to years of infighting between Gaza rulers Hamas and Abbas's Fatah party. Even months after Hamas and the Fatah-dominated PLO appointed a mutually-agreed central government, disputes that emerged shortly after the deal appear to be worsening. "Neither the president nor anyone else can forbid parliament from meeting," Hamas MP Salah Al Bardaweel said in a symbolic statement.
Hamas holds 78 of the Palestinian parliament's 132 seats, and 25 of its MPs live in the Gaza Strip. Another 20 non-Hamas MPs live in Gaza, but did not attend the meeting.
Senior Hamas leader Mahmud Zahar, also present, said the new government was a "failure". "We send a clear message: Either the government must take up its responsibilities or resign," he said.
Hamas demanded the new government pay the salaries of the 50,000 civil servants Hamas recruited after its takeover of Gaza in 2007, who took the jobs of 70,000 Fatah employees.
Partial payments of $1,200 each were made to 24,000 Hamas civil servants in late October. But the other 26,000, who work in security functions, have received nothing.
Hundreds of Hamas employees began a sit-in in front of the headquarters of the unity government, vowing to stay until their salaries are paid. Hamas MP Yahya Mussa said at yesterday's meeting that "Abbas and his government are committing a crime against Gaza workers."
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