PLO: Abbas to head new Palestinian government, weighs national unity with Hamas

Israel/Palestine
on 8 Comments

The fate of the Palestinian national consensus government, a unity coalition between leaders in the West Bank and Gaza, will be decided in the next few days after reports yesterday that the West Bank heads will resign and establish a new authority late this evening following disputes with Hamas over its rule in Gaza. Little is known about who will fill the replacement government, yet President Mahmoud Abbas is poised to continue his role as the chief official of the union under the promise of future elections for his seat and cabinet members, according to an official with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

“The President,” PLO spokesperson Ashraf Khatib told me,” is not stepping down, he wants the democratic process to take place through the national elections.”

Khatib added that the new national government “is expected to adopt the PLO position, deal with national crises and prepare for the presidential and legislative elections.” Last year when the national consensus government was established as a body of technocrats it also said it would host legislative elections, yet no steps were taken. Since that time differences between Hamas and Fatah have remained outstanding. Major disagreements were raised over the role of security officials from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority operating in Gaza, and the failure to expedite reconstruction in Gaza. Moreover, the national consensus government in theory is the highest authority over the Gaza strip. However, Hamas limited its ability to function by keeping a tight grip over the besieged territory.

“We are discussing the creation of a national unity government,” PLO Central Committee member Dr. Mustafa Barghouti told Mondoweiss, indicating that the government of independent leaders could be replaced by politicians and formally include members of Hamas. He confirmed  that officials in the PLO Central Committee spent today in lengthy meetings where two proposals were made: to either reform the current national consensus government by adding new cabinet members, or disband it entirely and announce a unity government, a combined force of Fatah and Hamas officials. In Dr. Barghouti’s view, the first proposal would leave the government weak.

“There are two issues. One issue is about the inability of the government to do its work in Gaza, and the other issue is the internal issue of the Prime Minister to do his work,” he said.

Dr. Barghouti said he favors scrapping the national consensus government and formally establishing a unity government with Hamas as a partner. It is widely considered that President Abbas is against giving Hamas an official role in the government, yet Dr. Barghouti said “many, many Palestinian parties and the opinion of the silent majority of the Palestinian people, and some members in Fatah [the president’s party]” support such a role for Hamas.

If Hamas were invited to join a unity government in the next few days, it would have far-reaching consequences for the Palestinians. U.S. foreign appropriations regulations strictly prohibit funding a government where Hamas exercises influence. Under the current framework, a body of civil service officials comprise the government, and no political parties are members.

Yet Dr. Barghouti thinks a government with Hamas officials serves the larger goals of the Palestinian leadership.

“Israel is trying its best to consolidate its division between the West Bank and Gaza. We see it as an effort to separate the West Band from Gaza so he can annex the West Bank,” he said.

A meeting is scheduled for Monday where the PLO Executive Committee will deliberate their options. “The government will be reshuffled completely,” underscored Dr. Barghouti.

In the meantime, discussion with Hamas will begin as the leaders in Gaza have not been consulted on any of the changes.

Hamas officials have decried the collapse of the unity government as a unilateral move by officials in the West Bank to oust Gaza-based leadership.

“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,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP today.

Last January Hamas officials announced they had left the national consensus government; yet the cabinet continued to meet up until April of this year.

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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8 Responses

  1. Bornajoo
    June 18, 2015, 4:24 am

    Dr Barghouti said

    “Israel is trying its best to consolidate its division between the West Bank and Gaza. We see it as an effort to separate the West Bank from Gaza so he can annex the West Bank,”

    Yep. That’s the plan!

    Thanks Allison

  2. HarryLaw
    June 18, 2015, 10:31 am

    ” Last year when the national consensus government was established as a body of technocrats it also said it would host legislative elections, yet no steps were taken” It’s a good job Abbas is not 50 something, I can envisage him in power for another 50 years, he has no intention of stepping down or of holding elections. What would be the point of elections in any case, a Hamas win, as in 2006 would not be acceptable to Israel/US or the West in general. The Palestinians do need to end these splits, which only benefit the Israelis, in fact the dissolution of this technocratic government was what the Israelis wanted all along, strange how Abbas and Co always seem to adopt the Israeli/US positions with regard to Hamas.

  3. diasp0ra
    June 20, 2015, 11:21 am

    I actually interviewed Mr. Barghouti a couple of years ago when I was working on my thesis, and he was a bit more forthcoming in private than he was in public. He’s towing the public line of the two state solution and all that, but when asked candidly about it he was of the opinion that the 2 state paradigm was coming to an end, and that Israel will soon feel this shift to calling for one state.

    It was quite interesting, I wonder how many other PLO officials, even Abbas himself, tow the 2 state line just to avoid international ostracism, as any talk about the one state solution on that high of an international level is still strictly taboo, and the work of threats and boogie men and not an actual resolution.

  4. Accentitude
    June 21, 2015, 4:44 am

    “The President,” PLO spokesperson Ashraf Khatib told me,” is not stepping down, he wants the democratic process to take place through the national elections.”

    The national elections that he refuses to set a date for. The national elections that occurred several years ago and in which Hamas won overwhelmingly and Abbas decided that he couldn’t accept the results, in a very western democratic way…so it caused a rift between Gaza and the West Bank and ripped the Palestinian government to shreds where it still stands now….as Abbas the self-appointed leader of a government of nothing.

    • Hostage
      June 22, 2015, 10:58 pm

      I wonder how many other PLO officials, even Abbas himself, tow the 2 state line just to avoid international ostracism, as any talk about the one state solution on that high of an international level is still strictly taboo, and the work of threats and boogie men and not an actual resolution.

      Netanyahu jumped on a plane and flew to Washington after Obama endorsed the Bush formula of 1967 borders with agreed swaps and got a commitment that Israel would only negotiate a border “that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.”

      George Mitchell and Obama subsequently confirmed that the Quartet Road Map framework was no longer considered legally binding. The Chief PLO negotiator, Erekat, couldn’t believe it and repeatedly said that everyone in the PLO would back the one state solution under those conditions:

      Erekat: It is the last time for the two states. My option, the BATNA [Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement], if all goes down, is the one state.
      ….
      George Mitchell: The reality is: No negotiations is not in your interest. So we are to come up with a statement to give you a ladder to climb down on this issue – just like you asked a week ago. Now you are arguing over the color of the ladder. And you are drawing unfounded inferences… Again I tell you that President Obama does not accept prior decisions by Bush. Don’t use this because it can hurt you. Countries are bound by agreements – not discussions or statements.

      Erekat: But this was an agreement with Sec. Rice. (later)
      Schwartz: It is not legally binding – not an agreement.
      Erekat: For God’s sake, she said to put it on the record. It was the basis for the maps.
      George Mitchell: You guys are now trying to come up with a history that Obama somehow invented the freeze. You and the Arabs have been calling for a freeze long before Obama. He did not pull it out of the air and impose it!
      Erekat: You wrote it in your report.
      George Mitchell: You established it as a precondition. We tried very hard, and we know what you think of us because we failed. Fine. So you can look back 10, 20, 60 years from now without negotiations or we can try to move forward.
      Erekat: I have my BATNA, Senator. People keep telling me the consequences of this, and the consequences of that … We have ongoing discussion in the PLO and Fatah Central Committee. If this is what we have, then we will no longer be talking about two states, but one state.

      http://transparency.aljazeera.net/en/projects/thepalestinepapers/20121821919875390.html

  5. Walid
    June 21, 2015, 7:24 am

    “Dr. Barghouti said he favors scrapping the national consensus government and formally establishing a unity government with Hamas as a partner. ” (Allison)

    Dr. Barghouti is the sanest and cleanest one of that useless group but nobody buys into his vision. If they go ahead and scrap the national consensus government, it would be simply to sideline Hamas from any acceptable Palestinian government, which would please Israel, the US and especially the PLO. Wasn’t it at just about the same time that the bogus national consensus government was announced when the 3 Israeli settler-teens were killed and the massive June 2014 assault on Gaza and the WB begun? A unit government is probably the last thing Abbas & Co would want.

  6. iResistDe4iAm
    June 21, 2015, 9:30 am

    “President Mahmoud Abbas is poised to continue his role as the chief official of the union under the promise of future elections for his seat and cabinet members…”

    Abbas may be the chief official of the union, but he also holds another de facto “chief” title. Mahmoud Abbas is the Chief Buthelezi of Israeli Apartheid.

    Like Chief Buthelezi who ruled the KwaZulu bantustan with the express permission of his Afrikaner masters, Mahmoud Abbas rules the West Bank “Area A” bantustan with the express permission of his Israeli masters.

    Like Chief Buthelezi’s fragmented KwaZulu bantustan which comprised only 2.6% of South Africa, chief Abbas’ heavily fragmented “Area A” bantustan currently comprises only 18% of the West Bank (equivalent to a mere 3.7% of historic Palestine).

    Like Chief Buthelezi who collaborated with the Apartheid regime and started a bloody civil war against anti-apartheid African groups, chief Abbas collaborates with the Israeli regime and started a bloody civil war against anti-occupation Palestinian groups.

    Like the chief collaborator of KwaZulu who tried his hardest to save Apartheid by delegitimising boycotts[1], the chief collaborator of the West Bank tries his hardest to save Israeli Apartheid by delegitimising BDS.

    Unlike the chief collaborator of KwaZulu whose bantustan had defined borders, the chief collaborator of the West Bank has a bantustan that keeps shrinking[2].

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    [1] “Zulu leader Gatsha Buthelezi, chief of South Africa’s largest tribe, told Sen. Edward M. Kennedy today that pulling U.S. investments out of South Africa to protest its racial policies hurts blacks more than the ruling white minority.” – The Miami News, 10 January 1985
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=9pQmAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YQEGAAAAIBAJ&pg=2562%2C2292964

    [2] Conversely, as the land under Palestinian control shrinks in size, the number of de facto Palestinian bantustans is actually increasing:
    Land under Palestinian Control:
    – Excluding the 43% of the West Bank that is off-limits to Palestinians (reserved for Jewish-only settlements/councils and roads, closed military bases and zones, Israeli declared nature reserves, areas cut off by separation wall, etc), leaves Palestinians with only 13% of their original homeland. It’s ironic that this is equivalent to the 13% that the other Apartheid regime tried but failed to impose in the form of 10 Bantustans.

    De facto Palestinian Bantustans:
    1. Area A – Palestinian Security & Civil Admin control (18% of West Bank land)
    2. Area B – Israeli Security and Palestinian Civil Admin control (21% of West Bank land)
    3. Area C – Israeli Security & Civil Admin control (61% of West Bank land)
    4. East Jerusalem – Illegally annexed by Israel
    5. Gaza Strip – Besieged by Israel (via air, land & sea) and Egypt (land)

    • Walid
      June 21, 2015, 12:46 pm

      Article in Ma’an yesterday is saying that Fatah is upset with Hamas’ direct negotiations with Israel which could only serve to destroy any chances of a united Palestinian state.

      “… Both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group condemned the unilateral dissolution of the government, saying they had not been consulted over the decision.”

      Chances of seeing a unity government are close to nil.

      From Ma’an:

      “Fatah says Hamas threatening national aspirations
      June 20, 2015 5:36 P.M. (Updated: June 21, 2015 2:15 P.M.) ”

      http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=766062

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