Update: 2 June 2014
The Palestinian Unity Government was finally sworn in on 2 June. Ministers from Gaza were barred from travelling to the West Bank to swear the oath of office.
Thursday 29 May 2014 is a day Palestinians should mark in their anniversary calendar. Fatah and Hamas are set to announce the names of the ministers that will serve in the Unity Government. It is to be made up of technocrats rather than representatives of factions. The present Prime Minister in Ramallah, and former President if Alnajah University has been named as the Unity Government’s Prime Minister. Dr Hamdallah’s appointment is a surprise as the reconciliation agreement had named PA Presudent Abbas as Prime Minister.
Israel reacted as expected by rejecting any dealings with a Government ‘backed’ by Hamas. However, done Western Governments gave a less clear response, including the US. Their main condition was that the Government effectively recognises Israel and honours past agreements. Abbas reassured them by confirming this will be ‘his’ Government and will therefore meet these conditions.
It is unlikely that Palestinians will be dancing in the streets as there is a long way to go before full reconciliation between the two main rivals becomes deep and irreversible but after many false dharma this is a welcome start. Abbas us said to be planning a visit UK Gaza soon and it is expected that the Rafah crossing UK Egypt could soon reopen on a more Permenant basis.
There are still a number of tricky issues to resolve including the makeup and command of the soon to be joint security forces. There is also the absorption of Hamas aligned civil servants in Gaza into the PA’s payroll.
Let us assume that all proceeds smoothly. How should, rather than will Israel see this development? You would have thought that it should welcome it. After all, if the Palestinians are united a future peace deal would be with a united Palestinian people. Security cooperation, which Abbas has described as ‘sacred’ in the West Bank, will extend to Gaza. Arab countries will support this and put their weight behind any peace deal the Palestinians accept.
The reality is Israel does not intend to conclude a just peace deal with a united or divided Palestinian people. It will boycott the Unity Government and will accelerate the accusation ‘Abbas’ is not a partner for peace because he choose Hamas over Israel. It will continue to call the Arab Peace a Plan ‘interesting’ but will not grab it with both hands as it should. The calls and indeed draft Laws to be considered by the Knesset aim to annex, through imposing Israeli law on substantial parts of the West Bank. It will continue illegal settlement building and the Judaisation of Alquds, Jerusalem.
In short, Israel’s proverbial two fingers, rather than hand, will remain extended to peace. The payback will be increasing isolation and an accelerating BDS. People make choices in life as do states. Israel is making the wrong choice again, Apartheid. And Israeli officials will continue to dread travel abroad for fear of arrest.
Amidst ongoing negotiations to finalise the names of Ministers to serve in the Palestinian Unity Government, Abbas announces it us yo be led by Dr Hamdallah.
Hamas spokesman, Sami Abuzuhri told reporters that two issues were holding the announcement of the new Government. One was the name of the Foreign Minister and the second, Abbas’s plan to replace the Ministry for Prisoners Affairs with an independent Commission. Zuhair predicts dealing with these issues requires ‘a number of days’.
Speaking on Aljazeera, Dr Mustafa Barghouti was optimistic that Fatah and Hamas would resolve the outstanding issues quickly as unity is more important than the outstanding issues.