Palestinian Authority 2018 Budget Allocates Funds to Pay Thousands of Hamas Members

TEL AVIV — Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced the Palestinian Authority’s 2018 budget on Monday, which will stand at a total of $5.8 billion.

Some of the funds were allocated to the Hamas terrorist organization under the condition that Hamas allows the PA to assume some positions in Gaza in accordance with agreements.

The Palestinian prime minister stated that the budget deficit is expected to reach $1 billion, which he said, “requires restraint on government expenses and the correct management of the public’s money.”

Hamdallah noted that one of the priorities of the government is to reduce the gaps between the West Bank and Gaza Strip on an individual and general level.

Regarding the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian prime minister noted that despite the fact that the government has not been the authorized body in the Strip for over a decade, the PA government intends to give Gaza an annual development budget of some $100 million to cover the salaries of 65,000 employees and security personnel, among other things.

Then the Palestinian prime minister surprised everyone by noting that the new budget takes into account the salaries of 20,000 Hamas government employees in PA ministries “despite the fact that Hamas continues to control all the revenue from taxation and all other revenue and puts it in their coffers.”

Hamdallah also noted that the money would only be transferred after Hamas allows the PA to fulfill its role in the Gaza Strip without any delays or obstructions.

In order to encourage economic growth, the Palestinian prime minister said that taxes would be reduced for companies, businesses and others with the agreement of the private sector, which seeks to hire 5,000 new employees out of academia each year in return.

Hamdallah said that concluding a Palestinian reconciliation deal with Hamas is essential to reaching a balanced budget that would encourage growth.

“With national reconciliation, we will reach our goal of establishing an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its eternal capital, a state that includes the Gaza Strip and the Jordan Valley,” said Hamdallah. “To this end, we expect Hamas to take the constructive step of allowing the government to fulfill its entire role and authority in the Gaza Strip.”

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