Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Palestinian Unity Government

Yesterday's announcement of the Palestinian unity government shows the continuing dominance of Fatah in the relationship, though Hamas did get a bit.  Rami Hamdallah, prime minister of the Fatah government in the West Bank, will also serve in both the interior and prisoners' affairs ministries.  Hamas also agreed to Riyad al-Maliki,  the incumbent Fatah foreign minister continuing in that post.  Still unresolved is the issue of how to integrate Fatah and Hamas security forces, and the related issue of continuing security cooperation with Israel.  Abbas has pledged to keep working with the Israelis, but because much of that security cooperation has been directed at Hamas, Israel is reluctant to work with a Palestinian security force with a significant Hamas component, while Hamas itself obviously has practical as well as ideological opposition.

Palestinian prisoners in Israel were also a snag:
The last-minute dispute with Hamas concerned the handling of Palestinians in Israeli prisons. Under international pressure over payments to prisoners, including those convicted of killing Israelis, Mr. Abbas plans to transfer their affairs from the government to the P.L.O.; when Hamas threatened Monday to withdraw its support for the new government, he agreed to temporarily maintain the ministry for prisoner affairs.
The initial unity agreement called for Hamas to join the PLO, but that may not happen, which actually exposes a key bit of Israeli duplicity.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to use Hamas's support for the government as another reason not to negotiate, but on the Palestinian side, the negotiators are actually the PLO, not the PNA, which was created to administer the occupied territories under Israeli domination
and which this government will govern.  He has specifically claimed that he cannot negotiate with a government supported by a party which calls for Israel's destruction, even though his own government has three ministers from the Jewish Home party, which wants Israel to ultimately be under Jewish religious law and rule the entire land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean as its official territory.

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