European Taxpayers' Contributions Destined for Hamas

August 9, 2007

Hamas has been declared a terrorist organisation by the USA and the EU. In June 2007, the Funding for Peace Coalition (FPC) reported how the TIM support system is being exploited, resulting in millions being transferred to the proponents of corruption and violence.

Less than two months later, evidence is emerging that the Palestinian Authority under the new reform government of Fayyad and Abbas are paying for the salaries of Hamas militiamen. This follows an announcement from the previous week that the government will pay the salaries to all the legislators of the Palestinian Legislative Council, including those belonging to Hamas's Reform and Change List.

Various commentators have analysed the passing of monies to Hamas as the result of a "computer error." Some Hamas officials saw the move as a "goodwill gesture". Either explanation may be possible.

What is evident is that at least half of Hamas' Executive Force's 6,500 members received their salaries from the Fayyad government. Further, whatever the explanation, it reveals a rank lack of control of official payments. It should be recalled that for some years now approximately 25% of the PA's annual is from overseas sources.

According to one description, the money was transferred to the accounts of the Hamas members in various banks in the Gaza Strip.

Saber Khalifeh, a spokesman for the Executive Force, said it was the first time the PA had paid the men in 12 months. "We were surprised to see that the Ramallah government had paid salaries to our security forces," he said. "We regard this step as recognition of the Executive Force on the part of the Fayyad government."

What follows is an account of the transfers to Hamas members from the International Herald Tribune.

Abbas' government inadvertently pays salaries to outlawed Hamas militia

The Associated Press Wednesday, August 8, 2007

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: The government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas inadvertently paid one month's salary to 3,500 members of the Hamas militia he outlawed, Finance Ministry officials said Wednesday.

The ministry ordered banks on Wednesday to cancel the deposits - totaling $2.3 million (1.67 million) - made the day before, officials said in telephone interviews from the West Bank town of Ramallah. But by then, some of the militiamen had withdrawn the money, said a spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza, Ahab Ghussen.

"First we thought that the people in Ramallah were showing regret and wanted to compensate the legitimate forces in Gaza, but we found that they still are displaying aggression toward their own people," Ghussen said.

It was unclear how much money militiamen withdrew.

One of the Finance Ministry officials said a computer error was responsible for the unintended payments. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

Abbas outlawed the Hamas militia in June after it wrested control of the Gaza Strip. The Finance Ministry is controlled by the emergency government Abbas set up in the West Bank town of Ramallah after Hamas' Gaza takeover.

In recent weeks, the ministry has been paying overdue wages to 170,000 civil servants, half of them security forces. For more than a year, the Palestinian Authority was able to pay only partial wages because of international sanctions imposed against it while it was controlled by Hamas. Those sanctions were lifted after Abbas ousted Hamas from power in June and set up a loyalist government

See The Gulf Times for further details.

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