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New Palestinian Unified Government Might Exclude Hamas Leaders - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Ramallah, Asharq al-Awsat — Amid the escalating crisis between the Hamas and Fatah movements following the torrent of accusations exchanged by their top leaders over the responsibility for the stalled efforts in forming the unity government, a Palestinian Government source told “Asharq al-Awsat” that despite the sharp polarization over the conditions for forming the national unity government, it is almost certain that today’s scheduled meetings between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu-Mazin) and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh would result in a final agreement to form the unity government.

The source pointed out that the presidency and government institutions and the Hamas and Fatah leaders understand the need to end the present crisis and demonstrate the utmost levels of possible flexibility in order to agree on a political program for the next government. It did not rule out Hamas’s agreement in the end to form a unity government in which the movement’s symbols and senior leaders do not take part. The source also expected Hamas to ask Abu-Mazin to designate incumbent Planning Minister Dr. Samir Abu-Ayshah or Communications Minister Jamal al-Khudari to form the new government since both are independents and to include technocrats close to the movement in it and leave it to the other factions to appoint those they believe are suitable on condition that they are honest and competent.

Palestinian sources do not rule out the possibility of Abu-Mazin announcing the dissolution of the Legislative Council and new presidential and legislative elections should his meetings with the Hamas leaders in Gaza today and tomorrow fail to bring results that lead to the formation of the unity government. They pointed out that the Palestinian president examined during the past 10 days several alternatives for dealing with the current situations and noted that one of them was to have Fatah’s parliamentary bloc in the Legislative Council withdraw confidence from Ismail Haniyeh’s government. But according to the same sources, this option was dropped after it emerged that the number of the Fatah and all the other factions’ deputies would be only 51 while withdrawal of confidence from the government needs the support of at least 67 deputies, that is, half plus one of the council’s 132 deputies. Hamas lost its parliamentary majority after the Israeli authorities arrested 28 deputies at the beginning of the “Summer Rains” campaign that the Israeli army launched after the “Vanishing Illusion” operation of 25 June in which three Palestinian military factions captured soldier Gil’ad Shalit and killed two others. The sources pointed out that in addition to this, it would be difficult for Abu-Mazin and “Fatah” to justify this step before the Palestinian public opinion as it would be interpreted as the exploitation of the occupation authorities’ repressive measures against Hamas to stage a political coup against it.

The sources went on to say that the most rational option is to have Abu-Mazin dissolve parliament and call for new elections. According to the sources, a study is underway of the legal reasons that Abu-Mazin can rely on to justify this decision. They added that Abu-Mazin is very “furious” with Hamas and feels it let him down after getting a promise from the EU and the Quartet to deal with the unity government on the basis of recognizing Israel and the agreements signed with it and renouncing violence. The sources hastened to point out that Abu-Mazin would not take any dramatic step before exerting his utmost efforts to persuade the Hamas leaders to drop their stands on the Quartet’s conditions. Figures close to him assert that he might present the agreement he had reached with Hamas and the next government’s political program in which Hamas had accepted the Arab initiative and the agreements signed with Israel as part of the terms of authority provided by the national accord document.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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