Palestinian Authority (PA) government civil servants throughout the Gaza Strip and West Bank staged Wednesday a general strike in protest against the irregular salary payment over the past 13 months.

The strike is part of a series of recent public sector strikes at a time when the Palestinian government is unable to ensure the salary payments of its workers. This is due to continued internationally-imposed embargo which the international community enforced in March 2006 after Hamas took power in January 2006’s elections.

Bassam Zakarna, head of the public employee's syndicate, warned of a step-up in protests in the short term unless their demands are met. "Today's strike is part of a series of activities the syndicate intends to carry out in the short term as it has not yet received any concrete commitments. The public sector employees are going through a genuine crisis, to the extent that they do not have enough money to pay for transportation”, a statement by the public sector’s employee read.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas warned yesterday during his meeting in Paris with French President Jacque Chirac, of the consequences of the continued internationally-imposed economic embargo on the Palestinian authority.

Abbas said that now the Palestinians have established a unity government with a unified platform they do not see what justifies the embargo. President Chirac voiced concern over the embargo and believed that it should be lifted.

The international Quartet for promoting peace in the Middle East (United Nations, United States, European Union, Russia) reaffirmed in March the economic embargo on the Palestinian unity government as well as its willingness not to deal with Hamas ministers until the latter recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept past signed agreements.

The Quartet, though, set a temporary assistance mechanism for the next three months to provide assistance to the Palestinian people, who are living currently poverty line. Palestinians established early in March a unity government comprising the more moderate Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas and the Islamist Hamas, in a bid to lift the embargo and end internal unrest.

The new government voiced respect to the past signed agreements and reiterated the Palestinian people’s right to self-defense in the face of the Israeli occupation. Palestine Liberation Organization signed in 1993 the Oslo peace accords with Israel, in which a reciprocal recognition was announced.