Fatah leaders resign in Hamas-ruled Gaza

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Gaza, Sep 21: Fatah leaders appointed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to help reorganise the faction in the Gaza Strip following Hamas's takeover have submitted their resignations, Fatah officials said.

The resignations highlighted divisions within Abbas's secular Fatah faction and the difficulty the Western-backed president faces exerting control in the coastal territory three months after Hamas Islamists seized control.

Abbas appointed the 10-member Fatah committee, led by chairman Zakaria al-Agha, to represent the faction in the Gaza Strip and organise its members.

A senior Fatah official told the sources yesterday that eight members of the committee, including al-Agha, submitted their resignations to Abbas earlier this week.

Abbas's aides had no immediate comment. The Fatah official said the resignations were submitted to protest the failure of Abbas's new government in the occupied West Bank to pay salaries to more than 10,000 members of Fatah-dominated security forces in the Gaza Strip.

After Gaza's takeover in June, Abbas dismissed a unity government led by Hamas and established a new administration in the West Bank headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Israel and major Western powers, which boycotted the Hamas-led unity government, responded by restoring the flow of funds to Fayyad's administration, allowing him to start paying salaries to most government workers.

Fayyad's cabinet has not offered an explanation as to why the 10,000 Fatah men have not received their salaries. Some officials have suggested that their salaries were being withheld because they failed to defend their compounds against Hamas during the June fighting.

After Hamas's takeover, about 31,500 workers were dropped from the Palestinian Authority's payroll, including 23,500 security personnel, according to figures provided to the International Monetary Fund.

Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have increased sharply in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks following a series of protests and mysterious explosions which Hamas blamed on Fatah loyalists.


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