Fatah calls for new Palestinian unity government, leaving Hamas in the cold

Fatah has called to replace the so-called Palestinian unity government, excluding Hamas. 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Fatah Central Committee called Sunday for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to replace the current Palestinian Unity Government with a new executive body that will pointedly not include Hamas.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the chairman of Fatah, has been facing pressure from his party to carry out the move.

Hamas slammed the decision, calling it the “grave” of Palestinian reconciliation, a spokesperson said in an interview on Gaza’s Al-Aqsa TV.

Palestinian officials offered two reasons for forming a government solely out of Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) factions, to which Hamas does not belong.

One is that the current body was a national unity government created as a result of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement, brokered by Egypt in 2014, but Hamas has not upheld its part of the agreement.

“We plan to form a new government of factions soon in response to Hamas’s failure to undertake its national responsibility in handing over the Gaza Strip to the legitimate PA,” Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior Fatah and Palestine Liberation Organization official, told Times of Israel on Sunday.

“Hamas helped form the last government. This time, it will not participate in its formation or be a part of it,” he stated.

The reconciliation agreement stipulated that Hamas would allow the PA to retake control over Gaza, which has been ruled by Hamas ever since the terrorist organization violently overthrew the PA government there in 2007.

In an effort to pressure Hamas into caving to his authority, Abbas has so far acted mainly by withholding a hefty amount of financing, but without success. Egyptian efforts to revive the reconciliation agreement have also failed.

The other motivation for overhauling the government is that Fatah leaders want to replace Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

Though a member of Fatah, Hamdallah has no source of power within the faction. Before being appointed to the premiership in 2013, and again in 2014, when the National Unity government was formed, he was president of An-Najah University in Nablus.

Hamdallah

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is resigning amid calls for his replacement. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Various Palestinian sources have bandied about the names of several possible successors to Hamdallah. The strongest among them may be PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, who has also been an integral part of the on-again, off-again peace negotiations with Israel over the last two decades.

Hamdallah responded to the Fatah committee decision by offering to resign. His spokesman said the prime minister has “put his government at the disposal of President Mahmoud Abbas.”