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Controversy follows Abbas‘ government dissolution announcement


By Zuzana Brezinová - June 18, 2015
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Palestinian Authority] [Hamas] [Fatah]

The "unity government" that has just been dissolved. Photo by Lazar Simeonov

 The Palestinian Unity Government presided by Mahmoud Abbas announced its dissolution on Wednesday, June 17. The unilateral act of resignation was strongly condemned by Hamas and Islamic Jihad whose political bureaus said that neither of the parties had been consulted on the issue.


“Hamas rejects any one-sided change in the government without the agreement of all parties. No one told us anything about any decision to change and no one consulted with us about any change in the unity government. Fatah acted on its own in all regards,” said Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas’ spokesman, according to Ma’an News Agency.


Fatah’s representatives claimed that despite the decision being ultimately endorsed during the PLO Revolutionary Council’s meeting on Tuesday evening, it has been extensively debated with all government members in the past months.


However, speculation emerged that Abbas’ unilateral dissolution of the joint Fatah-Hamas government could have come in reaction to leaked reports detailing Hamas’ secret ceasefire negotiations with Israel, the Times of Israel reported.


Hamas’ political bureau confirmed that an indirect communication exchange with Israeli authorities relating to a potential long-term extendable ceasefire took place. Nonetheless, its spokesman flatly denied having reached any form of tangible agreement.


PLO officials refute the speculative claims that Hamas’ negotiations informed the cabinet’s decision to resign. According to the Wall Street Journal’s report, the unity government collapsed over the lack of progress in reconciliation efforts and continuous disagreement over the reconstruction activities in Gaza.


“This is becoming the umbrella for our failure. We had a golden opportunity to set a paradigm as a state and we failed,” Munther Dajani, a political-science professor at Al-Quds University told the Journal.


The Palestinian unity government was sworn in on June 2, 2014 following the signing of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement in April. The pact was intended to end a seven-year long schism between the two major Palestinian players and mark off a period of political rapprochement.


Yet, the Israeli fifty-day offensive in Gaza last summer and Abbas’ hesitant condemnation of Israeli raids in the West Bank, sparked disputes in the newly formed government and slowed the reconciliatory process.


“There are obvious difficulties upon which the government resigned. So there should be a new government to increase its role especially in Gaza Strip,” commented Wasel Abu Yusef, member of the PLO Executive Committee, on the situation, Ma’an News Agency reports.


The PLO Executive Committee together with the former cabinet headed by Rami Hamdallah is now deliberating whether or not to include Hamas and factions operating in the Gaza Strip as full members of the new government.


Abbas is against appointing Hamas’ representatives into high-ranking government positions and making them equal political partners as this could result in the U.S. suspending their funding for the PA’s activities in the West Bank.


However, as Dr. Mustafa Barghouti said, “Many, many Palestinian parties and the opinion of the silent majority of the Palestinian people, and some members in Fatah” would support including Hamas in a new government.


This April, Hamas and its affiliated youth organisations secured a landslide victory in student council’s elections at universities across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In the absence of a feasible parliamentary alternative, the student council’s elections have become an important indicator of Palestinian political ambiance.


Potential failure to incorporate Hamas’ officials into the new cabinet could therefore void the future government of its legitimacy and popular support. According to Dr. Barghouti, it would also aid Israeli efforts to separate the West Bank from Gaza and consequently open the door to its full annexation.




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