Big swearing in ceremony tomorrow for Palestine’s new unity government. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will swear in between 15 and 17 cabinet ministers, some likely via video from Gaza. Israel has already informed Abbas they are boycotting the new government, an interim body who will partly function in preparation for presidential and parliamentary elections in six months.
Netanyahu is urging foreign governments not to recognize the new government under the pretext it would “strengthen terrorism“.
Haaretz reports Rami Hamdallah will lead the new government. He was prime minister before but previously unrecognized by Hamas. The news was first reported when Abbas told a group of activists yesterday a united Palestinian Government would be announced on Monday.
“The announcement of the government will be on Monday,” he said during a meeting with several dozen pro-Palestinian activists from France. “The Israelis informed us today that they are going to boycott us immediately after we form the government.”
“They are going to withhold our money,” he said, referring to the monthly transfers. “This is our money, not aid from Israel, and we will not stay silent. They want to punish us because we have an agreement with Hamas, which is part of our people…We say (the government) is going to recognize Israel, denounce violence and recognize the international agreements,” he said, echoing the international community’s conditions for dealing with Hamas. “This is a technocrat government. It has nothing to do with Fatah, Hamas or any factions.”
Abbas then claimed Palestine would react to any action taken by Israel as a result of their governments’ unifying formation. Though he didn’t say what kind of reaction, Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh notes Abbas has said in the past Palestine might “step up efforts” to gain further international recognition.
In April Rashid Khalidi said it’s time for Palestinians to get off their knees and turn to Europe and International Criminal Court. Let’s hope that’s the kind of stepped up efforts (“Plan B“) Abbas is referencing, although the US is absolutely adamantly against it. There are also factions in the Israeli government advocating a Plan B that includes unilateral annexation of Area C, 60% of the West Bank.
When Hamas and Fatah signed a historic reconciliation deal in April Israel was livid and announced they were backing out of the “peace talks” and under no circumstance would they negotiate with a government backed by Hamas. At the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday Netanyahu reiterated his position:
“I call on all responsible elements in the international community not to run to recognise a Palestinian government of which Hamas is a part or which rests on Hamas,” Mr Netanyahu said in remarks before the weekly meeting of his cabinet.
“Hamas is a terrorist organisation that calls for the destruction of Israel, and the international community must not embrace it. This will not strengthen peace; it will strengthen terrorism.
This would be the first Palestinian unity government formed since the UN overwhelmingly recognized the State of Palestine as a UN non-member observer state in November 2012.
Palestinians formed a unity government today. During a 10 minute ceremony in Ramallah 17 ministers were sworn in by President Abbas.
“Today we declare an end to the split and regaining unity of the homeland,” Abbas said in remarks broadcast after the ceremony on Palestine TV. “This black page in our history has been closed forever.”
The unity government “starts working and performing today,” said Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman in Gaza.
Less than an hour before the ceremony was scheduled to begin, Fatah official Amin Maqbool said a compromise had been reached, according to an official Hamas website.
Abbas’ decision to share power with Hamas may carry a heavy financial price. Western powers and Israel have already threatened to withhold more than $2 billion a year — half of the Palestinian Authority’s budget — if the deal went through.
Without the aid, the PA may struggle to keep writing paychecks for its 170,000 employees, undermining 20 years of government-building efforts.
Under U.S. anti-terrorism law, there’s a risk the annual $440 million that American taxpayers contribute to Palestinian society will be frozen, and similar constraints govern the European grant of 426 million euros ($584 million), the European Union has said. Israel has warned it will withhold at least some of the $1.2 billion it collects annually for the Palestinians in customs tariffs and other payments.
The Arab League pledged to make up for any aid cut over the reconciliation agreement…