GAZA CITY, June 28 (JMCC) - For weeks now, Palestinians have been waiting for their leaders to form a unity government. Instead, talks have repeatedly broken down and main factions Fateh
continue to clash in the press.
Regardless, observers believe that, ultimately and despite delays, a new government will be formed.
On May 4, the factions signed a reconciliation agreement
that was supposed to culminate in a shared government of independents followed by general elections.
Fifty days later, however, the agreement remains stalled over who will lead the new government. Palestinian Authority President Mahmous Abbas
, also leader of Fateh, sought to allow Salam Fayyad
to continue as premier. Hamas, on the other hand, rejected his candidacy and nominated former communications minister Jamal al-Khodary
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar
accused Abbas on Saturday of neglecting the reconciliation agreement.
It seems that Abbas is going to form the unity government headed by Fayyad without any regard for the reconciliation accord, Zahhar told journalists in Gaza.
In a statement published one day earlier, Fateh had rejected Hamas’ choice of al-Khodary, saying this was the best prescription for sabotaging the reconciliation.
Nevertheless, political analysts say that both factions are driven by forces that will bring them together in the long run.
Analyst Akram Atallah believes the two factions are compelled by regional changes to implement the reconciliation deal. What is going on in Egypt and Syria strongly affects their attitudes, in addition to Turkish intervention, which plays a key role.” He said he thought Turkey has “special tools” to pressure both Fateh and Hamas.
Abbas seeks reconciliation as part of a planned bid to seek statehood at the United Nations in September, say observers.
I think that Abbas will show international bodies that he is strong and able to unify the Palestinians and resume the path of peace, says Mohammed Hijazi, an expert in Islamist affairs. He will do his best to form the government before September.
Analyst Talal Okal says that the wrangling underway between Fateh and Hamas is largely strategic, with Abbas proposing Fayyad’s name to push Hamas to make more political concessions. “Sooner or later, Fayyad’s name may disappear” from the bargaining table, he believes.
Even before signing the agreement ending years of infighting, Hamas and Fateh each accused the other of putting obstacles in front of reconciliation.
Fateh often said that Iran and Syria were preventing Hamas from signing an Egyptian proposal drafted in 2009. Hamas, for its part, accused Abbas of doing the bidding of Egypt, the US and Israel in rejecting an accord with Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization in much of the West.
Soon after the toppling of Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak in February, Abbas announced that he had accepted Hamas’ terms for reaching reconciliation. Hamas dismissed his statement until protests swept through Syria, where Hamas leaders reside. The factions then met in Cairo and signed the pact.
Israel subsequently stopped the transfer of tax revenues it collects on behalf of Palestinians for several weeks, warning that a unity government with Hamas would expose Palestinians to sanctions. The United States has also said the reconciliation agreement is not helpful to peace talks with Israel, which have been stalled for over two years.
These positions have many worried that the formation of a unity government, even of independents, would bring about a funding boycott of the Palestinian Authority, similar to one put in place after Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 and formed a government.
Government employees went unpaid for months as the Palestinian Authority was deprived of the tax revenues and foreign funding that comprise most of its budget. Violence broke out between the factions and Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, where it governs still today.
Fateh is charging that al-Khodary, an independent parliamentarian and head of the board of the Islamic University in Gaza, is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and therefore, not truly independent of Hamas.
Hamas, on the other hand, charges Fayyad with leading Palestinian Authority policies in the West Bank that have largely outlawed the group and persecuted its leaders.
Yousef Rizka, political adviser to Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh
in Gaza, said in an interview with al-Risala that Hamas rejects Fayyad’s platform, which fights resistance and carries out security coordination with the occupation at the expense of Palestinian security.
Meanwhile, smaller Palestinian factions have been left out of the reconciliation dialogue and are deeply critical of Hamas and Fateh for not reaching agreement.
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine politburo member Rabah Mohanna said Sunday in a television interview that the absence of real national dialogue is the main reason behind the disagreements. Fateh and Hamas went solely to bilateral dialogue between the two of them, rather than seeking participation from the rest of the factions, he said.
A group of academics and intellectuals published an open letter Monday calling on the rival factions to focus on the “real interests of the Palestinian people” and complete the reconciliation pact.