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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 June 2006, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Hamas to pay salaries on Monday
Ismail Haniya
Ismail Haniya had said all workers would get money within two days
Some 40,000 Palestinian civil servants are to be paid a month's salary on Monday in what will be their first wage packet since February.

Finance Minister Omar Abdel Razeq said the money would go to the government's 40,000 lowest-paid workers.

He said the Palestinian Authority's other 125,000 workers would receive a pay advance but did not specify when.

On Friday, Prime Minister Ismail Haniya promised all government employees would be paid within two days.

"On Monday, those employees who make less than 1,500 shekels ($330, 175) a month can go to the banks and get their salaries," Mr Abdel Razeq told a news conference in Ramallah.

Those earning more than 1,500 shekels a month would be paid in the next stage, he said, without specifying when that would be.

The authority's 165,000-strong workforce has not been paid for more than three months.

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

Pay crisis

Speaking to worshippers at a mosque in central Gaza on Friday, the prime minister promised that all government employees would receive some money within the next 48 hours.

"Tomorrow or the day after, the banks will start to pay the salaries and down payments to civil servants," Mr Haniya said.

Over the last few weeks, the Palestinian prime minister has repeatedly promised to pay government workers, but this was the first time he has outlined a specific timeframe.

Mr Haniya told the crowd that the money, estimated at around $55m (29m), had been raised through "internal revenue collection ... and some good financial management".

Over the week, civil servants across the West Bank and Gaza have been engaged in angry protests over the unpaid salaries, with hundreds of security officials stoning the parliament building in Gaza City.

The Palestinian crisis has been exacerbated by Israel's refusal to pay the Palestinian Authority the customs duties owed on goods passing through Israel into the occupied territories.

The customs duties are worth about $60m per month.

About one million Palestinians, or a quarter of those living in the West Bank and Gaza, depend on the Palestinian Authority for their livelihoods.

Many have been forced to sell their belongings to survive.

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