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Europe Court of Auditors calls to stop paying salaries to Gazan civil servants who haven’t worked since 2007

Headline: “European supervisory body calls to cease payment of salaries of workers in the Gaza Strip, and the [European] Commission responds that there is no proof of corruption or mismanagement of our money”
     “The European Court of Auditors demanded yesterday that there be a ‘complete overhaul’ of the financial aid that the European Union transfers to the Gaza Strip, as it is used to pay the salaries of civil servants who ‘don’t work.’ This drew a sharp reply from the European Commission and opposition from the Fatah movement.
[Member of the European Court of Auditors] Hans Gustaf Wessberg, who is responsible for the report, stated at a press conference in Brussels that the financial aid that the European Union gives to the Gaza Strip mandates a ‘complete overhaul’. Since 2007, the European Union, the main donor to the Palestinian Authority, has granted 2.9 million dollars to projects in the occupied territories, 20% of all European aid designated to the ‘Neighborhood Policy’.

Some salaries of civil servants in the Gaza Strip (teachers and doctors) [parentheses in source] are paid by European grants, but Wessberg noted in his report that the European Union paid salaries of civil servants that aren’t working, at times for six years (i.e., since the Hamas takeover in 2007). According to the assessment of the European Court of Auditors, about 22% of the workers in the health system and 24% of the workers in the education sector receive European [funded] salaries even though they don’t actually work…

The report noted that the goal of the Palestinian aid program, called PEGASE, is to ‘support public services provided to the Palestinian nation, but the payment of salaries of civil servants who don’t work is not part of this goal.’ Wessberg noted that the European Commission and the diplomatic system ‘have not shown sufficient interest in this problem.’
The report recommends transferring the aid given to civil servants in Gaza to the West Bank… Regarding the problems concerning the Gaza Strip, [Peter Stano,] the spokesperson for Štefan Füle, the European commissioner responsible for the ‘Neighborhood Policy’ noted that Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas, ‘is outside the control of the Palestinian Authority.’ Stano stated: ‘Usually, Gaza Strip residents, who the PA assists with funds from the European Union, are prevented from going to work. Therefore, the European Commission believes the PA should continue to support these workers in the Gaza Strip. He added: ‘If no one pays the salaries of these civil servants, they’ll be at greater risk of being influenced by extremists’…

Fatah Central Committee Member Jamal Muhaisen stated: ‘Fatah rejects any recommendation to cease payment of salaries to Gaza workers.’ He noted that the movement will stand against any suggestion or decision in this matter. In statements to the press, Muhaisen added: ‘If a European decision is implemented, we’ll divide the salaries between [workers in] the West Bank and Gaza, and we won’t abandon the workers of Gaza.’
He clarified: ‘The Palestinian Authority has full responsibility for these workers, since the decision for them to stay home was made based on orders from the leadership, and therefore it’s responsible for the decision, whether it’s a bad or good one.’ He stated: ‘We are the ones that asked the workers to sit [at home] after the Hamas takeover, and therefore the Palestinian Authority is responsible for them.’”

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