What are the chances of a Palestinian unity government? – analysis

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday renewed his call for the formation of a Palestinian unity government made up of representatives from various groups, including Hamas.

Abbas made the call in a speech marking the 17th anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat.

The appeal came amid reports that the US administration, Egypt and other parties have been pressuring Palestinians to end the dispute between Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip by training of a unity government.

Abbas stressed, however, that any group willing to join the proposed unity government must commit to all United Nations resolutions related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel.

“On this painful anniversary, the anniversary of the death of the martyr leader Yasser Arafat, we renew our adherence to the unity of our people, and the call to form a government of national unity, in which all participating forces are committed to international legitimacy. recognized by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, ”Abbas said.

US PRESIDENT Bill Clinton watches Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO President Yasser Arafat shake hands after signing the Oslo Accord I, at the White House in Washington on September 13, 1993 (credit: GARY HERSHORN / REUTERS).

The commitment to “recognized international legitimacy” by the PLO refers to acceptance of the two-state solution and recognition of Israel, in addition to the Oslo Accords that were signed between the two parties in 1993.

Abbas, in other words, demands that Hamas recognize Israel’s right to exist and accept the Oslo Accords as a prerequisite for joining a Palestinian unity government. He insists that Hamas back the policies of the current Palestinian Authority leadership toward Israel.

Hamas, whose letter states that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam erases it, just as it erased others before it,” does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and rejects the Olso Accords and any form of cooperation with Israel. .

London-based Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Thursday that the United States and some Arab states were making efforts to reach an agreement that would allow Hamas to join a Palestinian unity government. According to the report, the idea of ​​the unity government is part of a larger effort to achieve a long-term truce agreement between Israel and Hamas.

The idea of ​​forming a unity government emerged shortly after Abbas’s decision in April to suspend the general elections. Parliamentary elections were supposed to take place on May 22, while a vote for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority was scheduled for late July. Abbas said he decided to delay the elections until further notice due to Israel’s alleged refusal to allow the vote to take place in Jerusalem.

“This is not the first time that President Abbas has proposed a unity government with all Palestinian factions, including Hamas,” said Abdullah Abdullah, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, the faction’s parliamentary body. “Any group that wants to join the unity government must accept the international resolutions on the basis of which the Palestinian Authority functions.”

Abdullah warned that not accepting Abbas’s status would result in an international boycott of the Palestinian unity government, mainly due to Hamas’s refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist and “international legitimacy.”

In 2007, a Palestinian national unity government headed by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh lasted only three months. The government did not comply with the three conditions established by the members of the Quartet – the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations: recognize Israel, abide by previous diplomatic agreements and renounce violence.

In 2014, the Palestinians again formed a unity government following another reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas. The ministers were mostly loyal to Abbas or independent, leaving Hamas without official representation. The government was dissolved a year later after Abbas accused Hamas of obstructing his work in the Gaza Strip.

Another senior Fatah official in Ramallah said he did not expect Hamas to accept Abbas’s recurring invitations to join a unity government. “Hamas is not interested in unity,” the official told The Jerusalem Post. “Hamas wants to maintain its control over the Gaza Strip and even hopes that one day it will take over the West Bank.”

Hamas leaders and officials have reacted to the unity government’s proposal by expressing their willingness to end the dispute with Fatah and work towards the formation of a new Palestinian “national leadership”, but without specifically accepting Abbas’s status.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was quoted last week as saying that his group seeks “the reconstruction of the Palestinian leadership in accordance with new fundamentals and political program.”

Haniyeh also expressed his willingness to join the PLO, which consists of 11 factions, the largest of which is Abbas’s Fatah. Hamas has refused to join the PLO unless it undergoes major changes and reforms and sees an end to Fatah’s “hegemony.”

Haniyeh said the new leadership Hamas is seeking should back the “popular resistance” against Israel and work to turn it into an uprising in the West Bank.

Noting Hamas’s rejection of the agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel, the Hamas leader said that the Palestinian “national enterprise” has declined since the signing of the Oslo Accords.

The national project, Haniyeh added, deteriorated significantly after the Oslo Accords, leaving the Palestinians with very limited options for confronting Israel.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya told the Qatar-owned Al-Jazeera network earlier this week that the Palestinian Authority “is no longer accepted” by the Palestinians. “The Palestinian Authority has become a burden to the Palestinian cause,” he argued. “It is necessary to redefine its functions in accordance with a comprehensive national vision. The Palestinian leadership must be renewed on the basis of a political program that represents all Palestinians and a mechanism to confront the occupation.

Hayya condemned the continued security coordination between the Palestinian Authority security forces and Israel in the West Bank. He made Abbas responsible for the current divide between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. “We believe in association,” he said. “That is why Hamas will not form its own government.”

A Palestinian political analyst told the Post that he does not believe that the United States or any Arab country is capable of persuading Fatah and Hamas to sit together in a unity government.

“President Abbas and Fatah fear losing financial aid from the West if they reach an agreement with Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by many countries,” the analyst explained. “I’m not even sure that Abbas really wants Hamas in his government. He does not trust Hamas and sees them as liars, hypocrites and terrorists whose sole objective is to take over the Palestinian Authority. “

Another analyst said Hamas is emboldened by the last war with Israel in May, and that is one of the reasons it is not prepared to make concessions to Abbas to join a unity government. Hamas, he noted, also sees public opinion polls showing that more than 70% of Palestinians want Abbas to resign or are dissatisfied with the performance of the Palestinian Authority.

“As far as Hamas is concerned, the Palestinian Authority is a sinking ship,” the analyst added. “Hamas would be foolish to join a ship heading to the bottom of the sea. They prefer to sit and wait patiently until the ship and its captain are gone. “


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