Palestinian Unity Government Sworn In

Israel Sees Red as Fatah and Hamas Bury Hatchet

1 People: Palestinians celebrate unity government in Gaza.
1 People: Palestinians celebrate unity government in Gaza.

By Reuters

Published June 02, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a Palestinian unity government on Monday in a reconciliation deal with Hamas Islamists that led Israel to freeze U.S.-brokered peace talks.

Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is dependent on foreign aid, appeared to be banking on Western acceptance - over Israeli objections - of a 16-member cabinet of what he described as politically unaffiliated technocrats.

Setting a policy in line with U.S. and European Union demands, the Western-backed leader said his administration would continue to honor agreements and principles at the foundation of a peace process with Israel.

Hamas, which advocates Israel’s destruction, has run the Gaza Strip since seizing the territory from Abbas’s Fatah forces in a brief civil war in 2007. Numerous reconciliation efforts, largely brokered by Egypt, have failed over power-sharing.

“Today, and after announcing the government of national unity, we declare the end of division that caused catastrophic harm to our cause,” Abbas said, voicing sentiments widely shared by Palestinians, as ministers took the oath of office in a ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his government would shun a Palestinian administration supported by Hamas, and he urged world leaders not to rush into recognizing it. Israel barred three Gaza-based ministers from traveling to the West Bank to be sworn in.

Ismail Haniyeh, the outgoing Palestinian prime minister in Gaza, said in a speech in the enclave that it was “a historical day” that closed a “chapter of seven years of division”.

Hamas television referred to Haniyeh as a “former prime minister”, in deference to the current West Bank-based holder of the post, Rami Al-Hamdallah.

But in his address, Haniyeh spoke of pursuing “resistance by all forms”, an apparent reference to actions that include armed conflict with Israel, and he said the unity deal meant that Hamas’s militia, the Qassam Brigades, “became an army today”.

ISRAELI SANCTIONS?

In the absence of Fatah forces in Gaza, Hamas will effectively retain its security grip in the territory, where in addition to the 25,000-member Qassam Brigades, the Islamist group also controls 20,000 other armed personnel.

Netanyahu called his security cabinet into special session to consider imposing economic sanctions against the new Palestinian administration.

Netanyahu’s finance minister, Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party, cautioned against any rash Israeli moves.

“In the coming weeks we will have to study this government and decide where we proceed from here. This is not a time for fulmination, but rather, for sobriety and care, as much as is possible,” Lapid said at a meeting with Yesh Atid lawmakers.

Abbas said on Saturday that Israel “informed us … they would boycott us if we announced the government”.

Israel withheld some tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority in retaliation for his signing in April of international conventions and treaties after the Netanyahu government reneged on a promised release of Palestinian prisoners.

The peace talks, which began in July, had been going nowhere, with divisions deep over Israeli settlement building in occupied land Palestinians seek for a state and Israel’s demand that Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who spearheaded the peace efforts that Israel froze when the unity deal was signed on April 23, spoke by telephone with Abbas and voiced his concern about Hamas’s role in the government, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

“(Kerry) stated that the United States would monitor the situation closely and judge any government based on its composition, policies and actions,” Psaki said.

Israel, the United States and the European Union regard Hamas as a terrorist group.

Abbas has been keen to assure Western donor countries he will remain the key Palestinian decision-maker and that security coordination between his forces and Israel will continue.

Both Fatah and Hamas see benefits to a unity pact.

With a strict blockade imposed by neighbors Israel and Egypt, Hamas has been struggling to prop up Gaza’s economy and pay its 40,000 employees. Abbas wants to shore up his domestic support since the peace talks with Israel collapsed.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.