Middle East

Abbas stops funding Gaza electricity to pressure Hamas

An official says the West Bank-based Palestinian government will stop paying for electricity in the power-starved Gaza Strip and "dry up" the flow of funds to the territory's Hamas rulers.

The Islamic militant Hamas seized Gaza in 2007, leading to the establishment of rival administrations — Hamas in Gaza and a self-rule government led by President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. Abbas recently said he would exert financial pressure to force Hamas to cede ground.

West Bank official Hussein al-Sheikh told local radio Wednesday that his government would stop paying $11 million a month for electricity Israel sends to Gaza. Al-Sheikh says "we are not going to continue financing the Hamas coup in Gaza."

Israel announced the Palestinian decision last week. Al-Sheikh's comments were the first official confirmation.