Skip to main content

Not a government of national consensus made in heaven

The Israelis don't like it and the Americans say they will watch how things pan out.   The union between Hamas and the PLO seems, on the surface, a good idea - but as this  Opinion  / Editorial piece in The Electronic Intifada suggests, it is a union fraught with a myriad of issues.

"The government of national consensus that took the oath of office before Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas today may save Hamas from its suffocating financial crisis and the heavy burden of administering Gaza, but at the same time will weaken the movement and lead to internal crises in the foreseeable future.

There is no question that the siege the movement has experienced over the past year, since a military coup removed elected Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi, had put Hamas in a deep hole due to the near permanent closure of the Rafah crossing, the destruction of more than one thousand tunnels that were a lifeline for Gaza’s economy, and due to the vicious Egyptian media campaign against it.

Hamas has put all its eggs in the basket of Abbas, giving him all the concessions he wanted. But Abbas’ basket is full of holes and he too is facing severe crises of his own after the failure of his negotiating strategy with Israel. Like Hamas, he is merely jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

When I say that Hamas waved the white flag and gave in to all of Abbas’ conditions and demands, I am referring to its relinquishing of three major ministerial portfolios: first, the foreign ministry — Hamas had rejected Riyad al-Maliki remaining in that role but agreed after Abbas insisted. Second, there was the ministry of religious affairs — Hamas tried to put forward a different candidate than the one selected, and finally the ministry of prisoner affairs, which Abbas abolished under Israeli and American pressure.

One cannot therefore describe this as a “government of national consensus” by any stretch of the imagination — despite Hamas welcoming its installation at the last minute. Rather it is the government of Abbas and his authority. The four Gaza ministers, all of them independents, were not permitted to travel to Ramallah for the swearing-in ceremony, except for Ziad Abu Amra, the minister of culture who was already in Ramallah.

It is difficult to be optimistic about the ability of this government to achieve its greatest responsibility which is organizing presidential and legislative elections at the end of the six-month period that is envisaged for them to take place. The biggest reason is Israel’s threats not to recognize or deal with the government, except perhaps in exchange for an enormous price: Abbas dropping his conditions for returning to the negotiating table, including the release of a fourth batch of prisoners and the freezing of settlements.

The contradictory statements from Hamas leaders and spokespersons in the final hours before the government was sworn in reveal the confusion within the movement’s ranks. They also reveal the clear divisions between two factions — one that from the beginning of the “reconciliation” process opposed giving the keys of government back to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and creating a consensus government according to Abbas’ conditions, and another faction that saw that given the severe financial crisis and siege, Hamas would have to leave office and return to the situation that existed before 2007 when it took power in the Gaza Strip.

Perhaps it is too early to render judgment about Hamas’ choice, but there is no doubt that Abbas dictated all the conditions and put a gun to Hamas’ head. He told them either you accept or I will put a bullet into the “reconciliation” agreement. Hamas, or at least the prevailing faction within it, preferred to accept Abbas’ terms, dropping all the movement’s objections."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Whatever democracy the Palestinians had is dying

Almost a desperate cry from a well-known, respected and sober moderate Palestinian.

Mustafa Barghouthi is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He was a candidate for the Palestinian presidency in 2005.

He writes in a piece "The Slow Death of Palestinian Democracy" on FP:

"Palestinian municipal elections were supposed to be held last week. Instead, they were canceled. A statement released by the Palestinian Authority claimed the cancellation was "in order to pave the way for a successful end to the siege on Gaza and for continued efforts at unity" between Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, and the government in the West Bank.

The cancellation of this election was an unjustified, unlawful, and unacceptable act. It damages democratic rights and makes a mockery of the interests of the Palestinian people.

But this is far more than an internal Palestinian issue. The only lasting peace between Isr…

Big Brother alive and well in the USA in 2007

The so-called "war on terror" has shown itself up in a multitude of manifestations. The most dangerous thing has been governments using the "excuse" of the war to restrict certain civil liberties, allowing government agencies to pursue a variety of things that they would otherwise would not - and should not - be allowed to do and gathering, and retaining, a variety of information on its citizens.

The Washington Post reports on the latest incursions into civil liberties of all Americans:

"The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials.

The personal travel records are meant to be stored for as lo…