Palestinian premier promises to pay wages after protests by security forces

Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, promised yesterday to start paying salaries to government employees in the aftermath of angry demonstrations by security officers over the non-payment of their wages.

Mr Haniyeh told worshippers at a Gaza mosque that the payments would start today or tomorrow of wages to those earning £175 a month, and those earning higher salaries would receive downpayments of £175. The PA's 165,000 employees are in their third month without a salary.

His pledge came amid growing unrest among the Fatah-dominated security services against the Hamas government, which on Thursday saw members firing automatic weapons and smashing windows at the parliament building in Gaza.

Khader Afana, a Fatah member of the preventative security force, was killed by unknown gunmen in Gaza City. No one admitted responsibility for the shooting.

Pledging that local banks would start paying some of the salaries, Mr Haniyeh said that the PA would not collapse under the weight of the international and Israeli boycott of the authority. "We have collected lots of money but the Americans are putting pressure on the banks and on other countries in order to prevent it from coming in," he said.

Mr Haniyeh's promise was made two days before the expiry of the 10-day deadline set by the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, in his warning to Hamas that they should accept the principle of a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel or he would put the issue to a referendum.

As sources close to Mr Abbas reported a hardening of his determination to hold a referendum, Fatah's central committee, at a meeting in Tunisia attended by Mr Abbas, ratified a motion calling for the referendum whether or not it receives the consent of other Palestinian factions.

In Beijing on Thursday, Mahmoud al-Zahar, the Hamas leader and PA Foreign Minister, repeated his opposition to the referendum, again calling it a waste of money. Pointing out that Hamas had won an election in January, he declared: "We are not in need of a referendum." But Mr Abbas said he did not need the backing of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council for the referendum, adding: "I do not need the parliament's ratification. 160,000 Palestinians are not eating and drinking because of the position of the current government."

One official said that the "national dialogue" between Hamas and Fatah on the proposal - embodied in a joint document by a group of senior Fatah and Hamas prisoners - might extend beyond the weekend. But he added that Hamas had not been officially attending talks in Ramallah over the last few days, on the ground that they wanted them moved to Gaza, and that "the feeling" was that the referendum would go ahead whether Hamas agreed to the proposal or not.

Meanwhile, Haaretz newspaper quoted a PA security officer for Gaza border crossings, Salim Abu Safiya, as saying that Mr Abbas was soon to assume direct responsibility for the crossings, replacing the government officials who run the checkpoints with his own presidential guards. Forces loyal to Mr Abbas have already assumed control of the main Rafah crossing into Egypt in an operation aided and supported by the United States.

Officials in the presidency office earlier this month broadly confirmed reports that Mr Abbas was still pressing a long-standing proposal for the presidential security force to be increased - to an eventual target of around 10,000 men.

Israel caused Mr Abbas and Fatah leaders some embarrassment a week ago by announcing that they had allowed weapons into Gaza from an unspecified third country for equipping Mr Abbas's personal protection force because of perceived threats against his life. A request transmitted by the US for weapons to be allowed in for PA security forces last year was rejected by Israel.

The Israeli Defence Minister, Amir Peretz, yesterday ordered a joint inquiry with Egypt after two uniformed and armed men were shot dead after an attacking an Israeli army unit on the border between the two countries.

Egyptian police on Friday said the two armed men who were killed were security personnel. A third armed man, also said by Egyptian police to be a security officer, fled back across the border. Essam el-Sheik, the head of Egyptian police in the border area, said the reason for their infiltration into Israel was not immediately clear.

Fatah and Hamas: the key differences

* TWO-STATE SOLUTION

Mahmoud Abbas is planning to hold a referendum on the principle of a two-state solution to overcome opposition from Hamas to recognising the state of Israel. A referendum would vote on a document favouring two states on pre-occupation 1967 borders drawn up by Hamas and Fatah prisoners.

* SECURITY

Both sides are struggling for control over the security services delivering law and order to Palestinians. Hamas has formed a 3,000-strong paramilitary force to "support" existing police despite this being vetoed by President Abbas, angering members of the Fatah-dominated security forces. Meanwhile President Abbas is seeking to build up presidential forces.

* SALARIES

Some Fatah elements are protesting at the PA's inability to pay salaries because of the Israeli-led boycott on Hamas unless it meets demands for recognising Israel, renouncing violence and holding to previous agreements with Israel. Hamas says most Palestinians blame not the Government, but the international community.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
These photographs released by the University of Maryland Medical Center show images of full face transplant recipient 37-year-old Richard Lee Norris of Hillsville, Virginia
mediaGQ front page features man who underwent full face transplant
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Sport
Moeen Ali wearing the 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands on his left arm
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Business Analyst - London - Banking - £400-£450

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Banking - London...

Application Engineer - Flow Metering

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Application ...

Chemical Engineer/Project Coordinator

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Chemical Eng...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on