Hamas Official: Palestinian Unity Government About a Week Away

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expected to announce new government next week and present it to parliament for vote.

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, shaking hands with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Doha, May 5, 2014. Credit: Reuters

A new Palestinian government comprising both the PLO and Hamas will be finalized within days, a senior Hamas official said Sunday, according to the Ma'an news service.

The PLO's Azzam al-Ahmad is due to arrive in Gaza on Wednesday to conclude negotiations, said Bassem Naim, a senior adviser to Hamas leader and Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh.

"We expect the government to be announced by [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] early the following week," Naim said. The government will then be presented to the Palestinian parliament for a vote of confidence.

In a surprise move, Hamas and the PLO signed a reconciliation agreement last month, overcoming a years-long intra-Palestinian split.

In terms of the April 23 reconciliation agreement, the two factions are to form an "independent government" of technocrats, headed by Abbas, preparatory to the holding of long-delayed Palestinian elections.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat last week accused Israel of hypocrisy in opposing the Palestinian Authority’s reconciliation deal with Hamas.

During the past nine months of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, attorney Isaac Molho, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal envoy to the talks, complained repeatedly that the PA does not represent the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and that Israel had no assurance the PA would be able to impose a future peace deal on Hamas, Erekat said in an interview with Radio Ashams in Nazareth.

“Molho held this issue as a sword and laid it on our necks: What will you do with Gaza, and how will you deal with Gaza?” Erekat said.

“And now they’re attacking us for turning our faces toward Palestinian national unity,” Erekat said in the interview. “Israel has forgotten that it reached agreements and understandings with Hamas under the auspices of Sheikh Morsi, yet it attacks us for implementing the reconciliation agreements.”

In 2012, then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi brokered a deal that ended a round of fighting between Israel and Hamas.