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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Pay pledge to Palestinian workers
Protesting civil servants in Bethlehem
Workers protest in Bethlehem ahead of Mr Haniya's pledge
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya has said 40,000 low-paid public employees will receive a month's salary despite a crippling financial crisis.

Mr Haniya said others in the 165,000 strong workforce would get an advance.

Civil servants, who have not been paid for three months, had staged protests on Tuesday, warning their anger could turn to violence.

Western donors halted direct aid after the election of Hamas, which refuses to renounce violence or recognise Israel.

'Siege'

Mr Haniya said at a Cabinet meeting that workers earning up to 1,500 shekels ($330; 175) a month would get a full month's salary, while those earning more would get the 1,500 shekels as an advance.

The prime minister did not say where the money to pay the workers would come from but it could total around $55m.

A group of about 1,000 public employees had protested in Ramallah and others in Bethlehem demanding the payment of wages and chanting slogans against what they called the "siege" by Israel and the West.

The European Union and US froze aid to the Hamas government after it was elected in January while Israel has refused to hand over tens of millions of dollars in customs revenues it collects for the Palestinian Authority.

Bassam Zakarneh, head of the civil servants' union, said: "I fear that we are going to lose control over the protesters and we will end up with a general strike and closure of the government offices."




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