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Bucking Israeli sanctions, Palestinians form unity gov't

Swearing in of technocratic government is a first step in ending a seven-year rift between Hamas and Fatah. Israel takes punitive measures against the inclusion of Hamas.

The new Palestinian government, Ramallah, June 2, 2014. (Photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

The new Palestinian government, Ramallah, June 2, 2014. (Photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

A technocratic Palestinian unity government was sworn in on Monday, a first step toward ending a seven-year rift between rival factions Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, respectively.

The government is by design temporary until new Palestinian elections can be held and Hamas is included in the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Israel was expected to adopt punitive measures against the Palestinians in response to the inclusion of Hamas, which it considers to be a terrorist organization. In response to the preliminary unity government agreement in April, Israel halted all ministerial ties to the Palestinian Authority. In an act that has been deemed economic warfare, Israel also said it would stop accepting shekel deposits from Palestinian banks; the shekel is the main currency in the occupied Palestinian territories.

On Monday, following the actual formation of the technocratic unity government, Israel was expected to announce further sanctions. The Israeli government was set to officially end peace negotiations with the Palestinians, stop the transfer of most taxes that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians and cut off all contact with the Palestinian government, save for security coordination.

Update (7:20 p.m.):

The Israeli security cabinet on Monday afternoon said that it would hold the Palestinian Authority responsible for “all actions that harm the security of Israel,” including rockets from the Gaza Strip.

The cabinet also said Israel “[will] act, including in the international arena, against the participation of terrorist organizations in [Palestinian] elections.” In other words, Israel will attempt to dictate who is eligible to participate in Palestinian democracy.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas, responded to the threat of sanctions and boycotts: “We will not stand idle for the collective punishment against us and we will use all the means, diplomatic, political means, to respond to it.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the swearing in ceremony for the new unity government, Ramallah, June 2, 2014. (Photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the swearing in ceremony for the new unity government, Ramallah, June 2, 2014. (Photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Israel also denied entry to the West Bank to three of the new Palestinian ministers who live in the Gaza Strip. Israel controls all Palestinian border crossings to the West Bank and one of the two crossings to the Gaza Strip.

Israel is currently holding eight members of the Palestinian Legislative Council in prison without trial, under administrative detention. At various times in recent years, some 50 PLC members have been imprisoned by Israel.

The United States and other members of the international community are demanding that a new Palestinian government declare its intention to adhere to what are known as the Quartet principals. The principals are: recognizing Israel, rejecting violence and abiding by all existing agreements, to which Abbas said last month the a unity government would be committed.

A major sticking point in negotiations between Fatah and Hamas was the fate of Hamas’s independent security forces in the Gaza Strip.

In what it said was its last-ever meeting last Tuesday, the Hamas cabinet in Gaza said that it, “is ready to hand over its full responsibilities to the unity government,” the Associated Press reported. It was not clear what that meant for the Hamas security forces, which are separate from its military wing, the Izz a-Din a-Qassam Brigades.

The assumption is that Egypt’s deteriorating relations with Hamas — since the coup that ousted President Morsi — was one of the major factors that led to Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. Additionally, the continued rule of Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is hostile to Hamas, will only increase the Gazan government’s interests in reaching a deal with Ramallah.

Related:
More than just the PA at stake in Palestinian reconciliation
True Palestinian reconciliation must include refugees
Why Fatah-Hamas reconciliation might just work this time

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    COMMENTS

    1. Rab

      Now would be an excellent time for the “State of Palestine” to join the ICC. Let’s all remember that every rocket fired at Israel, and one was fired yesterday, is a war crime. If fired from a civilian area, it’s two war crimes.

      And please, when you charge Abbas with the war crime, please find a way to also charge Erakat. He needs to retire already.

      Reply to Comment
      • Johnboy

        Rab, the ICC is a criminal court i.e. it prosecutes individuals for the war crimes that *they* commit, it does not prosecute states nor is it the least bit interested in “collective punishment”.

        A rocket is fired from Gaza.

        Q: Who fired it?
        A: Not Abbas.

        Q: Who ordered it fired?
        A: Not Abbas.

        Q: Who could stop it being fired?
        A: Not Abbas.

        Q: So, would an ICC prosecution find Abbas guilty of that war crime?
        A: No, because he neither commissioned that war crime, nor did he carry out that war crime, not can he prevent that war crime.

        Now, run that same ruler over this war crime “The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory”

        Care to explain to me how Netanyahu could avoid being found guilty of *that* war crime?

        Reply to Comment
        • Average American

          No, you can’t run the same ruler over what Israel does. Because Israel is different, Israel is very special! They don’t need to follow everybody else’s rules about occupation. Because they are Jewish and that’s very different and very special. It’s Jewish Lebensraum.

          Reply to Comment
          • Piotr Berman

            Comparisons with German fascism are clearly unjustified. Revisionist AZionism is more closely related to the Italian version, so the proper comparison would be “Spazio vitale” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spazio_vitale
            Note that Spazio vitale includes “picolo spazio” (restricted to the proper folks) and “grande spazio” (under the control of the proper folks). After reading about all “natural security concerns of Israel”, it seems that they require the inclusion of Palestinians in the “grande spazio”.

            Reply to Comment