Posts Tagged ‘ Palestine Unity Government ’

Rival Palestinians Strike Gaza Unity Deal After Cairo Talks

By Saud Abu Ramadan and Fadwa Hodali

October 12, 2017

Rival Palestinian groups agreed on Thursday to end their decade-old rift, signing an Egyptian-brokered deal that will allow a unity government to resume control of the Gaza Strip and deploy forces to the border with Egypt within weeks.

Hamas, an embattled Islamist movement which had controlled Gaza since 2007, last week handed over most government functions to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, in a first step toward ending divisions that have complicated the Palestinian bid for statehood.

Under the accord struck in Cairo, the consensus government will formally take full administrative control of Gaza by Dec. 1, according to a statement issued after the talks. The two sides have been invited to return to the Egyptian capital for more negotiations on Nov. 21. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ordered all state agencies to “restore the unity of the Palestinian people and institutions.”

In a joint news conference, chief Fatah negotiator Azzam al-Ahmad said the deal crucially would see the Palestinian Authority’s presidential guards deploy along the border between Gaza and Egypt by Nov. 1. If that leads to greater security, Egypt might be willing to permanently reopen the Rafah border crossing, one of the isolated coastal enclave’s few outlets to the world.

After initially shunning Hamas, the Egyptian government of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi sought its help in controlling the movement of militants and weapons through cross-border tunnels between Gaza and Egypt’s northern Sinai, where an Islamic State affiliate is fighting the Egyptian government — a conflict that has battered the Red Sea tourist industry.

Armed Wing

“The consensus government has to take full control in the Gaza Strip and carry out all its duties and functions in all aspects of life, running the crossing points either with Israel or with Egypt,” Fatah’s Al-Ahmad said.

There was no indication from either side, however, that any understanding had been reached on the fate of Hamas’ armed wing, a sticking point which could yet scupper reconciliation efforts. Hamas leaders have said they would not disarm as long as Israel occupies Palestinian land. Abbas has said he wants weapons to be under unified control.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week warned against any “bogus” unity bid that would threaten his country if Hamas is allowed to keep its guns. On Thursday, he said any Palestinian government must meet the conditions of the international Quartet behind peace efforts, including recognizing Israel and respecting past agreements. Israel will watch as the situation develops and will react accordingly, he said.

The willingness of Hamas to work with Fatah, which governs the Authority’s West Bank territories, comes amid desperation in Gaza, whose economy has been strangled for years by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade, the destruction of its underground smuggling tunnels and wars with Israel. The destitution deepened earlier this year when Abbas engineered a power shortage to put further pressure on Hamas, which is shunned as a terrorist group by Israel, the U.S. and European Union.

Israeli Assertions

Gaza, which sits on the Mediterranean coast and is fenced in by heavily-patrolled barriers on three sides bordering Israel and Egypt, has been a frequent battleground over the past decade, during which Hamas has fought three wars with Israel. Abbas has tried numerous times without success to repair the rift, in part to counter Israeli assertions that peace negotiations are pointless because he can’t ensure that any treaty will also hold in Gaza.

Previous efforts to reconcile have failed due to disagreements over the fate of the weapons held by Hamas, as well as control of borders and other key institutions. This time, Hamas has gone further in offering concessions to heal the rift. As well as offering help to secure the border with Egypt, it has distanced itself from the Muslim Brotherhood, which former military chief El-Sisi removed from power in mid-2013.

Internationally isolated and with the economy in shreds, Hamas said last month it was ready to dismantle the administrative committee it set up earlier this year to run Gaza. Abbas viewed the panel as a shadow government and evidence of bad faith in the talks.

“We, in Hamas, are determined, serious and faithful this time,” Hamas negotiator Saleh Al-Arouri said at the news conference in Cairo. “This time is different to the previous times.”

— With assistance by Ahmed Feteha, Tarek El-Tablawy, Lin Noueihed, and Michael Arnold

Source: Bloomberg.

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-12/palestinians-strike-gaza-unity-deal-after-marathon-cairo-talks.

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Palestinian cabinet convenes in Gaza for first time since 2014 amid Fatah, Hamas unity talks

GAZA CITY, Palestine

October 3, 2017

The Palestinian cabinet met in Gaza on Tuesday for the first time since 2014 in a further step towards the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority retaking control of the territory.

The meeting of the Fatah-led government, which is based in the occupied West Bank, comes as part of moves to end a decade-long split between the PA and the Hamas movement, which runs Gaza.

In an opening speech, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah renewed his pledge to end the rift.

“We are here to turn the page on division, restore the national project to its correct direction and establish the (Palestinian) state,” he said.

It was the first meeting of the cabinet in Gaza since November 2014, and comes a day after Hamdallah entered the territory for the first time since a unity government collapsed in June 2015.

On Monday, he met with senior Hamas figures, including leader Ismail Haniya.

After Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, government spokesman Yusuf Al Mahmud said ministers discussed the humanitarian situation in Gaza. No Hamas officials took part.

Mahmud warned that a full reconciliation deal would take time.

“The government does not have a magic wand,” he told reporters.

More than two million people live in impoverished Gaza, which has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt for years.

The sides will hold further talks next week in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

Punitive measures imposed by the PA against Hamas, including cutting electricity payments for Gaza, would remain in place pending the result of those talks, Mahmoud added.

Hamas called for the measures to be ended immediately as a show of good will.

“Our people look forward to practical steps to ease their suffering,” a statement said.

A main sticking point between the parties is whether tens of thousands of Hamas employees will be added to the PA’s already bloated government payroll. It is also unclear if Hamas will allow its militants to be replaced by PA security forces, especially at Gaza’s border crossings to Egypt.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since seizing it from the PA in a near civil war in 2007 after Hamas swept 2006 legislative polls that were ultimately rejected by Fatah, Israel and the international community. So far, multiple previous reconciliation attempts have failed.

Last month, Hamas announced they were willing to cede civilian control to the PA, following Egyptian pressure.

The United States and the European Union blacklist Hamas as a terrorist organization, complicating the formation of any potential unity government.

The head of Egyptian intelligence Khaled Fawzi is to visit Gaza later on Tuesday and meet with Hamas and PA officials, including Haniya.

‘Carefully optimistic’

Tuesday’s cabinet session took place at the official Gaza residence of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in the cabinet office, hung with portraits of Abbas and historic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Huge posters of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who brokered the reconciliation effort, were also featured outside Abbas’ residence.

Abbas himself remained in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Hamas security were on the roof of the building, while Palestinian Authority agents were deployed inside, an AFP correspondent reported.

“Today we are faced with a historic revival in which we are grappling with our wounds and elevating our unity,” Hamdallah said, reaffirming that there would be no Palestinian state without Gaza.

U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said on Monday that he was “carefully optimistic” about the reconciliation talks.

“If the region stays engaged, if Egypt’s role continues and if the political parties themselves continue to show the willingness they are currently showing to work with us on this process, then it can succeed,” he told AFP.

In an interview on Monday night Abbas said that while the two sides “might have wronged each other and cursed each other, today we enter a new phase.”

A key issue is Hamas’s powerful military wing that has fought three wars with Israel since 2008. Hamas officials reject the possibility of dissolving it.

Abbas told Egypt’s CBC that there will be “one state, one system, one law and one weapon” — in an apparent reference to Hamas’s military wing.

He also warned Hamas could not “copy or clone Hezbollah’s experience in Lebanon,” referring to a situation where an independent armed group exerts major influence on national politics.

The United States cautiously welcomed Hamdallah’s visit, but White House special envoy Jason Greenblatt warned any Palestinian government “must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties and peaceful negotiations.”

The Palestinian Authority has signed peace deals with Israel, but Hamas was not party to them and does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Source: Daily Sabah.

Link: https://www.dailysabah.com/mideast/2017/10/03/palestinian-cabinet-convenes-in-gaza-for-first-time-since-2014-amid-fatah-hamas-unity-talks.

Palestinian unity Cabinet sets up Gaza operations

October 09, 2014

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The new Palestinian unity government toured Gaza and held a Cabinet meeting there for the first time Thursday, aiming to assure donor countries that absolute Hamas control has ended and that it can lead the rebuilding of the war-battered territory.

The visit by the ministers came three days before an international pledging conference for Gaza, to be held in Cairo. In establishing a foothold in Gaza, the new Cabinet, which reports to Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas, was trying to signal that the Palestinians’ paralyzing political split has come to an end. Hamas had seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank.

Still, the situation remains volatile. Hamas refuses to disband its security forces, even though it promises to support the new government of independent experts. Those security forces were in full view Thursday as the ministers inspected neighborhoods that were badly damaged in this summer’s 50-day war between Israel and Hamas.

In the Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyeh, Hamas troops linked arms at one point to try to shield the Cabinet ministers — largely unsuccessfully — from a crush of curious onlookers. The chaotic scene illustrated how fragile security arrangements are under a reconciliation deal reached by Abbas and Hamas earlier this year. Forces loyal to Abbas are to take up positions near Gaza’s border with Israel, including crossing points, to facilitate the import of construction materials, but Hamas troops would likely remain in control elsewhere in the territory.

Despite the uncertainty, the former political rivals said rebuilding is a shared priority. More than 60,000 homes and more than 5,000 businesses were damaged or destroyed during the war, according to estimates by the United Nations and the Palestinian government.

At the start of their visit, the Cabinet ministers, most from the West Bank, toured destroyed areas, including in the town of Beit Hanoun. “What we have seen today is horrible,” Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said at the start of the Cabinet meeting in Abbas’ former residence. “I cried in Beit Hanoun when I saw how the people live and sleep. The priority is reconstruction” and political unification, he said.

Later, Hamdallah and his ministers visited Ismail Haniyeh, the top Hamas leader in Gaza. Haniyeh’s house was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in the recent war and he received the group in a building next to the debris.

Haniyeh said that the Cabinet’s visit signaled “the end of the (political) split and sends a message to the Palestinian people and the world that we have one government and one political system.” Haniyeh had served as prime minister for both the West Bank and Gaza after Hamas won parliament elections in 2006. He was fired by Abbas a year later, after Hamas seized Gaza by force. The takeover triggered a border blockade of Gaza by neighboring Israel and Egypt, and over the years, repeated reconciliation attempts failed.

Hamas became increasingly unable to govern in Gaza as a result of new Egyptian border restrictions last year that drove it into its worst financial crisis since its founding in 1987. Earlier this year, a desperate Hamas agreed to hand over some authority to an Abbas-led unity government. The new government was formed four months ago to replace rival administrations — one led by Hamas in Gaza and the other headed by Abbas in parts of the West Bank. However, it hadn’t operated in Gaza until now because of unresolved disputes between the long-time rivals and because of the war.

Palestinian unity is a consensus issue, with polls consistently showing a majority in favor of ending the political split. In Gaza, many hope the new government will be able to ease border restrictions and revive the crippled economy.

“We hope they open the crossings and create jobs for young people,” said Mahmoud Sharif, 28, who sells cigarettes by the piece from a tray in a Gaza park. Sharif said he used to make a decent wage in a sewing workshop producing for the Israeli market before the border closure.

Israel initially refused to deal with the unity government because it is backed by Hamas. Since the Gaza war, Israel has signaled readiness to work with the Palestinian Cabinet, particularly on Gaza reconstruction.

In a show of good will, Israel opened its Erez crossing into Gaza for the West Bank-based ministers on Thursday even though the crossing was meant to be closed for a Jewish holiday. The shift came after the international community, including the U.S., agreed to work with the new government on rebuilding Gaza.

“The only way to have a long-term sustainable solution for Gaza is for the Palestinian Authority to assume full authority in Gaza,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington on Thursday.

“So we support this interim technocratic government in its efforts and we view this meeting as a positive step in that direction.” As part of the access restrictions on Gaza, Israel has prevented the import of construction materials, with the exception of shipments for projects supervised by international agencies, including the United Nations.

Israel fears Hamas will divert cement and steel for military use, including attack tunnels. Israel spotted and destroyed more than 30 such tunnels during the recent Gaza war. Under a U.N.-brokered reconstruction deal, Israel is to ease the import of building materials, while U.N. inspectors and forces loyal to Abbas are to monitor the shipments until their final destination.

Daraghmeh reported from Ramallah, West Bank. Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

1st Gaza meeting of Palestinian unity Cabinet

October 09, 2014

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The new Palestinian unity government held a Cabinet meeting in the war-battered Gaza Strip for the first time Thursday, marking the end of more than seven years of absolute Hamas control of the coastal territory.

In establishing a Gaza foothold, the Cabinet also tried to assure the international community that foreign aid for Gaza’s reconstruction will not reach the Islamic militant Hamas, shunned by the West as a terror group.

The Cabinet meeting came three days before an international pledging conference where Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seeks $4 billion for Gaza reconstruction after a 50-day war there this summer between Israel and Hamas.

Still, it remains unclear how much authority the Cabinet will have on the ground. It is made up of independent experts, none of whom are declared members of the two main Palestinian movements: Hamas and Fatah.

Hamas has said it would allow the ministers, who report to Abbas, to operate freely in Gaza. However, Hamas has refused to disband its security forces, creating a potentially volatile situation. On Thursday, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and 11 ministers arrived in Gaza from the West Bank, joining five colleagues who were already present in Gaza.

After entering Gaza through an Israeli-controlled crossing, the ministers toured the town of Beit Hanoun and the Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyah, both badly damaged during the war. Hamas security forces formed cordons, linking arms, as curious and unruly crowds thronged the ministers. Later, as the visitors drove through Shijaiyah in a convoy, hundreds of people lined the street to watch, some waving and a few holding the yellow flags of Abbas’ Fatah movement.

The Cabinet convened in Abbas’ former residence in Gaza City. “What we have seen today is horrible,” Hamdallah said at the start of the meeting. “I cried in Beit Hanoun when I saw how the people live and sleep. The priority is reconstruction” and political unification, he said.

Hamas said Thursday it would be supportive. “This unity government was the result of a reconciliation agreement that Hamas worked hard for,” said Izzat al-Rishq, a senior Hamas official in Doha. “Therefore, we have a real and serious interest in enabling it (the new government) to work successfully in Gaza.”

Hamas had seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, prompting a border blockade by neighboring Israel and Egypt. Repeated attempts at reconciliation failed. However, Hamas became increasingly unable to govern after new Egyptian border restrictions last year drove it in its worst financial crisis since its founding in 1987.

Earlier this year, a desperate Hamas agreed to hand over some authority in Gaza to an Abbas-led unity government. The new government was formed four months ago to replace rival administrations — one led by Hamas in Gaza and the other headed by Abbas in autonomous areas of the West Bank.

However, it hadn’t been operating in Gaza until now because of unresolved disputes between the long-time rivals and because of the war. Israel initially refused to deal with the unity government because it is backed by Hamas. Since the Gaza war, Israel has signaled readiness to work with the Palestinian Cabinet, particularly on Gaza reconstruction.

In a show of good will, Israel opened its Erez crossing into Gaza for the West Bank-based ministers on Thursday even though the crossing was meant to be closed for a Jewish holiday. As part of the restrictions on Gaza, Israel has prevented the import of construction materials, with the exception of shipments intended for projects supervised by international agencies, including the United Nations.

Israel fears Hamas will divert cement and steel for military use, including attack tunnels. Israel spotted and destroyed more than 30 such tunnels during the recent Gaza war. Under a U.N.-brokered reconstruction deal, Israel is to ease the import of building materials, while U.N. inspectors and forces loyal to Abbas are to monitor the shipments until their final destination.

Daraghmeh reported from Ramallah, West Bank.

Palestinian unity Cabinet to meet 1st time in Gaza

October 09, 2014

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Members of the new Palestinian unity government assembled in Gaza on Thursday for their first Cabinet session in the war-battered territory — a largely symbolic meeting meant to mark the end of absolute Hamas control of the coastal strip.

The gathering, set for midday, comes three days ahead of an international pledging conference where Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will seek $4 billion for Gaza reconstruction following a 50-day war there this summer between Israel and Hamas. The war ended Aug. 26.

Several of the ministers arrived in the Gaza Strip after traveling from the West Bank on Thursday morning, including the new Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. He spoke hopefully of a new era between the militant Hamas movement and Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.

“We have put the years of split behind us and started the reconciliation process as a crucial step to alert the international community to its responsibilities in helping reconstruct Gaza and lift the blockade,” he said.

Israel has prevented the arrival in Gaza of many types of construction materials and other goods, fearing that Hamas could use them to manufacture rockets and other weapons. By meeting in Gaza for the first time, the unity government of independent experts hopes to reassure donors that it can lead reconstruction efforts and that funds pledged for Gaza will not reach Hamas, shunned by the West as a terror group.

However, it remains unclear how much authority the unity government, which reports to Abbas, will have on the ground. Hamas, which seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, has said it will step aside, but has refused to disband its security forces.

Still, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri sounded conciliatory when he greeted Hamdallah upon his arrival. “We want to see the government carrying out its duties in Gaza and we are willing to help it as much as we can,” he said.

The unity government was formed four months ago to replace rival governments in separate territories — one led by Hamas in Gaza and the other headed by Abbas in autonomous areas of the West Bank. However, it hasn’t been operating in Gaza until now, both because of unresolved disputes between Abbas and Hamas and because of the recent summer war.

Ehab Bseiso, a government spokesman, said that 12 Cabinet ministers left the West Bank on Thursday morning, en route to Gaza. The trip takes the ministers through Israel, including two Israeli-run crossings.

Israel initially refused to deal with the unity government because it is backed by Hamas. Since the Gaza war, Israel has signaled readiness to work with the Palestinian Cabinet, particularly on Gaza reconstruction. And its willingness to accommodate the West Bank-based ministers’ passage to Gaza appeared to be a sign of goodwill, coming as it does on a Jewish holiday when Gaza-Israel crossings are normally closed.

In Gaza, the ministers were to be joined by five colleagues who are based in the territory or arrived here earlier. The group was to tour areas destroyed during the war before holding its Cabinet meeting at Abbas’ former residence in Gaza.

In preparation for the meeting, a sign reading “Prime Minister’s Office” was affixed to the entrance of the Abbas residence.

Daraghmeh reported from Ramallah, West Bank.

Palestinian unity Cabinet to meet in Gaza

October 06, 2014

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — The Palestinian unity government will hold its first Cabinet meeting in Gaza this week, a key step toward taking charge of reconstruction efforts in the war-battered territory, a senior official said Monday.

The Cabinet will convene Thursday, said Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa, three days before an international pledging conference where the Palestinian government will seek $4 billion in aid for Gaza, hit hard in a 50-day war this summer between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Donor countries view the unity government of independent experts, led by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as key to any reconstruction plans. Hamas, which is shunned as a terrorist group by the international community, has governed Gaza for the past seven years.

The purpose of the Gaza meeting is to “see the situation on the ground and to send a message to the donors’ conference that the government is ready to start reconstruction soon,” Mustafa told The Associated Press.

Hamas seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, prompting a border closure of Gaza by Israel and Egypt, enforced to varying degrees over the past seven years. After Egypt tightened the closure last year and stepped up its destruction of cross-border smuggling tunnels, Hamas began experiencing severe financial difficulties that made it increasingly difficult for the group to govern.

Earlier this year, Hamas agreed to hand over authority to a temporary unity government reporting to the West Bank-based Abbas, though it refused to disband its security forces. Other key issues remained unresolved, including the fate of more than 40,000 employees hired by Hamas after 2007. The unity government has not yet started operating in Gaza.

Mustafa said that’s about to change. “The government is for both the West Bank and Gaza, and it’s time to start operating in Gaza despite the difficulties,” he said in a phone interview. In the West Bank, which Israel seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Palestinians have limited self-rule in 38 percent of the territory.

The unity Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, will meet in Abbas’ former residence in Gaza, Mustafa said. Abbas has not set foot in Gaza since the Hamas takeover, and it remains unclear when he might return to the territory.

During the latest Israel-Hamas war, which ended in late August, Israel launched thousands of airstrikes at what it called Hamas-linked targets, while Hamas fired thousands of rockets and mortars at Israel. More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed, the majority civilians, according to the U.N. Israel lost 66 soldiers and six civilians.

More than 60,000 homes and more than 5,000 businesses were destroyed or damaged, according to joint assessments by the Palestinian government and the United Nations. One of the key challenges will be to get construction materials into blockaded Gaza.

Under the closure, Israel has restricted imports of building materials to prevent cement and steel from being diverted by Hamas for the construction of bunkers and attack tunnels. During the war, Israel discovered and destroyed more than 30 such tunnels.

Mustafa said some construction materials would enter Gaza this week during what he described as a test phase, but did not elaborate. U.N. officials have said they have negotiated a deal with Israel under which imports would gradually increase, while U.N. inspectors and security forces loyal to Abbas will conduct spot checks in Gaza to ensure no shipments are diverted.

In another step, some 3,000 troops loyal to Abbas will take up positions in Gaza soon, Mustafa said, without elaborating.

Palestinian factions agree on unified government

Thursday 22 December 2011
Phoebe Greenwood in Tel Aviv

President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal finalize groundbreaking deal in Cairo after heated negotiations.

Rival Palestinian factions have agreed to form a unified government, which will be sworn in by the end of January. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal met in Cairo to agree the groundbreaking deal late on Wednesday after days of heated negotiation between representatives of Palestinian political groups led by Hamas and Fatah.

The talks, mediated by Egypt, are part of ongoing efforts to mend the factional divisions that split Gaza from the West Bank in 2007 and led to the collapse of the Palestinian legislative council. There has not been a functioning Palestinian parliament since.

Initial reports suggested that the announcement signaled Hamas’s return to the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is internationally recognized as representing the Palestinian people. But Fatah officials told the Guardian that the militant group is yet to sign the PLO charter, which would require it to lay down arms.

Ghassan Khatib, a spokesperson for Mahmoud Abbas, welcomed the progress, saying that in order to the achieve independence through the United Nations, the Palestinian Authority must prioritize reunification.

“We are hopeful the reconciliation will be successful,” Khatib said. “We cannot say we are ready for independence and statehood before we have a reunified Palestinian system.”

On Tuesday, the delegates agreed to set up both an electoral commission and a deadline for the establishment of a caretaker cabinet of technocrats. Both sides agreed that all political prisoners currently held in the West Bank and Gaza would be released by the end of January.

The issue of prisoners has been a critical sticking point. Officials in the Gaza Strip point out that since Abbas promised to release Hamas prisoners held by the Palestinian Authority at his last meeting with Meshaal in November, 89 members of the militant faction have been arrested in the West Bank.

Cynics within both factions maintain that the victories won at the Cairo summit are hollow. While Hamas has agreed to accept the foundation of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, the militant group steadfastly refuses to abandon its armed resistance to the Israeli occupation or recognize the state of Israel.

“We want really to end this [division] but I am not optimistic,” a spokesperson for Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said earlier this week, indicating that the leadership of acting prime minister Salam Fayyad remained an obstacle. “Abu Mazen [Abbas] has said no government without Salam Fayyad. This is not negotiation.”

Fayyad is regarded with suspicion by Hamas.

Hamas officials also predict that heavy diplomatic and financial pressure applied by Israel and the US will ultimately prevent Mahmoud Abbas from forming a unity government.

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has issued an ultimatum to the Palestinian leader, warning that he must choose between reconciliation with Hamas and peace with Israel, a stance confirmed by his spokesperson on Thursday.

“Hamas is openly against peace. Terrorism is not just a tactic it is their very being. The unfortunate reality is that if Abbas moves towards Hamas, he moves away from peace,” Mark Regev said.

Washington has indicated it will cut millions of dollars in funding to the Palestinian security infrastructure if the current leadership unifies with Hamas.

If the new Palestinian government is established in late January, its birth will coincide with the deadline presented to Palestinian and Israeli leaders by the Middle East quartet to present roadmaps to peace. The international mediating body has requested serious proposals on border and security issues from both governments by 26 January.

Source: The Guardian.
Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/22/palestinian-factions-agree-unified-government.

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