Hamas Wants to Employ the 'Hezbollah Model'

Hamas source says its organization will be a party in government but will maintain an independent military; other Palestinian groups say Fatah-Hamas unity government won't last long.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Fatah and Hamas representatives meet in Gaza City, April 22, 2014.
Fatah and Hamas representatives meet in Gaza City, April 22, 2014.Credit: AFP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

A Hamas source has said the model being planned for the new Palestinian unity government is that of Hezbollah in Lebanon, in which the organization is a government party that has shed responsibility for routine matters but maintains an independent military.

“If anyone expects Hamas to hand over its missile network to the PA, he’s making a big mistake,” the Hamas source said. “Hamas wants to avoid ministerial responsibility for civilian matters, but it wants to maintain its power as a popular-resistance group.”

According to Hamas sources, one issue to be solved is the degree of security coordination with Israel. Mahmoud Abbas says that as long as he is president, security coordination will continue.

Still, many Hamas activists in the West Bank find themselves summoned to interrogations by the Palestinian security forces. Another issue is whether elections for the presidency and parliament would be held toward the end of the year.

Meanwhile, despite Fatah and Hamas’ predictions that they will unveil a unity government next week, other Palestinian factions say such a leadership would not last long.

Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank have been talking about presenting the government next week. The government would swear allegiance to Abbas toward the end of the month. Sources say the sides are close to agreeing on ministers, all of whom would be technocrats not part of either movement.

But in an interview with Jordanian newspaper Al Ghad, Nayef Hawatmeh, the secretary general of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said there was still a dispute over senior portfolios such as the interior and finance ministries, as well as matters concerning security powers.

Also, Hawatmeh reportedly is angry that the two sides were seen to be dividing the spoils without taking into account the other factions in the Palestine Liberation Organization.

According to Hawatmeh, both movements are trying to agree on a list of names from which Abbas would choose ministers, but the issues of deputies and powers were still open.

Hawatmeh says that even if the candidates are not activists of either movement, they are linked to Fatah or Hamas in terms of their views, so the new government would not be a national unity government.

A senior Fatah source told Haaretz that Abbas and the two movements were keen to avoid names that could prevent the international community, especially the Quartet – the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia – from recognizing the government.

“We don’t want another siege and more sanctions, so we don’t intend to present a government with people who were active in the diplomatic or security leadership of the two movements and about whom there is no international consensus,” the Fatah source said.

The sources say the new government would be in charge of civilian affairs in the West Bank and Gaza, with a clear division of jobs. But when it comes to the security forces, the picture is different.

According to the PA, in a meeting in London last week, Abbas and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the implications of the unity move, which Abbas said would not undermine any negotiations in the future.

According to Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, Kerry asked Abbas not to take steps such as continuing to turn to UN institutions and other international organizations, but no new ideas were brought up.

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