Hamas Rejects 'One-sided' Dissolution of Palestinian Government

After Palestinian president announces unity government to be sent home within 24 hours, Hamas says was not consulted, will not accept any unilateral change in government.

Reuters

Hamas said Wednesday it is against any one-sided dissolution of the Palestinian unity government, one day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the government will be dissolved within several days.

"Hamas rejects any one-sided change in the government without the agreement of all parties," Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, told AFP.

"No one told us anything about any decision to change and no one consulted with us about any change in the unity government. Fatah acted on its own in all regards," Zuhri added.

However, Hamas official Ziad al-Zaza seemed to accept the dissolution and called on Abbas "to form a unity government with all national and Islamic factions to face Israeli occupation," AFP reported.

The Fatah-Hamas reconciliation government was forged between the rival Palestinian movements in June 2014, after the Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and the PLO agreed to implement a unity pact to end the division of the two polities the previous April.

However, the government has been struggling to function, particularly in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

According to Palestinian sources, after the dissolution of the government, President Abbas is expected to appoint Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah again to form the new government, which will include a number of changes from its current formation.

Despite the inability to implement the reconciliation agreement with Hamas, the platform of the new government will be to still try to form a national government, comprising the various Palestinian factions.

Indirect talks

Abbas's announcement on the government's dissolution may have been influenced by reports of indirect talks between Israel and Hamas over an agreement for a long term cease-fire, Palestinian officials told AFP.

Though Hamas denied the talks, high-ranking Hamas official Bassem Naim told AFP that the reports of the indirect talks caught Abbas "off guard," and prompted the decision to dissolve the government.

"He felt there was a possibility that a solution be found without the (Palestinian) Authority being involved," Naim told AFP.

An unnamed official with Abbas' Palestinian Liberation Organization made similar statements: "If you end up having a different kind of status for Gaza, then basically the idea of a Palestinian state completely disappears," the official told AFP.

On Tuesday, Senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil denied reports of any discussions between his organization and Israel for a long-term cease-fire. Bardawil did say that Hamas, with other Palestinian factions, signed an agreement on maintaining a lengthy period of quiet with Israel at the end of its Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip last summer. This was the only arrangement that won broad Palestinian agreement, but Egypt since abandoned its sponsorship and Israel is not interested in carrying out such agreement, he added.

In an interview with the Palestinian Ashams Radio station on Tuesday, Bardawil said that as far as Hamas is concerned, there is no reason for separate agreement on cessation of hostilities to be drawn up with Israel without the consent of all Palestinian factions – including Fatah – and therefore any reports and statements to the effect that the Islamist movement is seeking such a unilateral agreement with Israel are just attempts to attack Hamas.

“We have no intention to establish a state in Gaza and no intention to give up on the West Bank. We are fighting for the self-determination of the Palestinian people,” Bardawil declared.

At the same time, officials in the Israeli defense establishment seem to oppose signing obligatory agreements or understandings for as long the Strip remains quiet and Hamas continues to control it.

“Why do we need to agree to a port or airport, or to other such decisions in return for quiet, as long as the quiet is being preserved by Israeli deterrence,” said a senior defense official.