Bloomberg’s Tel Aviv-based reporter Jonathan Ferziger this week conveyed assessments indicating that a recently inked unity deal between the Palestinian Fatah faction and the rival Hamas organization – which is aimed at paving the way for a single government agreed to by both sides – may trigger the financial collapse of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as blackletter U.S. laws and European Union disenchantment lead to cutbacks in aid.
The report is one in a long line of similar write-ups, but it was particularly blunt in specifying the amounts at stake: over $2 billion total:
If Abbas does conclude his agreement to govern with Hamas, under U.S. law, there’s a risk that the annual $440 million that American taxpayers contribute to Palestinian society will be yanked automatically. Similar terms govern the European grant of 426 million euros ($584 million), said David Kriss, the EU spokesman in Tel Aviv. Israel has already said it will withhold at least some of the $1.2 billion it collects annually for the Palestinians in customs tariffs and other payments.
Together, the sanctions could chop $2.2 billion from the authority’s $4.2 billion budget. Hamas’s Yousef expressed hope the Arab League would honor an April 28 pledge to make up for any foreign aid cut because of the reconciliation agreement, although league members in the past have reneged on financial commitments to the PA.
The outlet also quoted Ahmed Awad, a political scientist at Al-Quds Open University in Gaza City, noting simply that “we all know that the PA survives only through foreign donations and without them, it could collapse.”
Hopes that financial sanctions might be avoided if Hamas could be dragged toward the center have been stymied by repeated statements from the group’s leaders rejecting any possibility that they might cease pursuing the eradication of the Jewish state.
Moreover, several data points indicate that the terror group may be planning attacks against Israeli targets. Israel Hayom reported Monday that a Hamas operative had been intercepted carrying videos documenting the patterns of Israeli passenger train lines that run close to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip:
The train line, only a few months old, was built to link the southern city of Sderot to the center of Israel. All the stations are fully protected against missile attacks. But now it has emerged that the Palestinians are monitoring the train line from a vantage point only several hundred meters from the border.
An unnamed official involved in the incident told Israel Hayom that the footage was recovered after a recent arrest of a senior Hamas operative in Gaza.
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