Hamas-Fatah unity gov't already in discord, says Sha’ath

PA clampdown on Hamas supporters in West Bank, Gaza leadership's refusal to accept Fayyad as head of new government stymies progress.

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June 5, 2011 18:14
2 minute read.
Hamas and Fatah announce unity deal in Cairo

Palestinian Unity Egypt 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

One month after the Egyptian-brokered Hamas-Fatah reconciliation accord was announced in Cairo, the two parties are continuing to squabble over the establishment of a unity government.

According to Fatah’s Nabil Sha’ath, the new government was supposed to be announced this week. Last week, Sha’ath visited the Gaza Strip, where he held talks with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on the formation of a new government.

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Sha’ath was hoping to persuade Hamas to accept current Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as head of the proposed unity government.

Hamas’s insistence on excluding Fayyad is now the major obstacle to the formation of the government, a senior Fatah official in Ramallah said on Sunday.

The official confirmed that PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who visited Cairo last week, had asked Egyptian leaders to put pressure on Hamas to accept Fayyad as head of the new government.

Abbas believes that a unity government headed by Fayyad would ensure the continued flow of US and EU funding for the PA.

On Sunday, in yet another sign of the ongoing crisis over the identity of the prime minister, Hamas reiterated its fierce opposition to Fayyad’s nomination.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said that his movement would present to Fatah its own list of candidates for prime minister.

He claimed that Hamas and Fatah negotiators who met in Cairo recently agreed that all those who served in the Fayyad and Hamas governments would be excluded from the unity government.

“We have reached agreement in principle that the new ministers would not come from any political groups,” Radwan said. “We have also agreed that the unity government would not include ministers who have already served in the two governments.”

The new government would consist only of independent technocrats and academics, and would not have a political platform because it’s only a transitional government, he explained.

Another issue that is delaying the establishment of the unity government is the PA’s continued security clampdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank.

Wasfi Kabaha, a former Hamas minister living in the West Bank, said it was hard to talk about real reconciliation in light of the ongoing arrests.

“Nothing has changed in the West Bank after the signing of the reconciliation accord,” he said. “The detainees are still in Palestinian prisons and the Palestinian security forces are continuing to summon people for interrogation almost on a daily basis.”


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