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Hamas-Fatah Government to be Sworn In Monday

PA unity government to be sworn in after Hamas and Fatah overcome differences regarding identity of foreign minister.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/2/2014, 2:46 AM

Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashaal (archive)
Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashaal (archive)
Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority (PA) unity government will be sworn in on Monday at 1:00 p.m. in Ramallah, a PLO executive committee member told the Ma’an news agency on Sunday.

Wasel Abu Yusef said that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s office had sent invitations to PLO executive committee members and ministers to attend the ceremony.

Abu Yusef added that the obstacles that faced the unity government were overcome, as Hamas agreed that Riyadh al-Malki would stay on as foreign minister, and the issue on the ministry of detainees was resolved.

Earlier, according to Ma’an, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that no official agreement had been reached to announce the government of national unity, a day after Abbas said it would be formed by Monday.

Abu Zuhri said in a statement that news reports about the possible announcement of the unity government this week were "unilateral," stressing that "there is still disagreement over some points that need to be addressed."

Abu Zuhri said that central to the ongoing disputes is that the Hamas movement continues to have strong reservations about Fatah's insistence on selecting al-Maliki as the minister of foreign affairs.

"Al-Maliki is undesirable from a nationalistic point of view as he used to have very negative stances, especially towards the Gaza Strip," Abu Zuhri said, according to Ma’an.

Abu Zuhri did, however, point to Hamas's willingness to compromise on the issue, saying that the agreement will move forward regardless and the government will be announced even if al-Maliki remains a cabinet minister.

Abu Zuhri also said that Hamas disagrees with Fatah's suggestion to eliminate the ministry of prisoners’ affairs.

"The prisoners' issue is a national cause which is not restricted to Hamas, and the calls to eliminate the ministry of prisoners' affairs came at the wrong time," he was quoted by Ma’an as having said.

The Hamas-Fatah unity agreement, announced in April, aims to bring an end to the longstanding feud between Fatah and Hamas, which began in 2007 when Hamas took control of Gaza in a bloody coup and started cracking down on Fatah officials living in the territory.

Despite Abbas’s continued claims that the unity government will adhere to his policies, Hamas has continued to be adamant over its full control of the new government, expressing over and over again that it would remain in control of both Gaza and the PA after elections.

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned world governments not to rush to approve the new PA unity government.

"I call on all responsible elements within the international community not to hurry to recognize the Palestinian government that Hamas is part of, and which relies on Hamas," Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting, saying it would "strengthen terror."

Meanwhile, Israel is not expected to take any steps or threaten the PA after the unity government is sworn in, according to Channel 2 News.

The report on Sunday evening said that Israel would wait to see how the world will respond to the new government.

On Saturday, Abbas said that Israel had threatened to cut ties with the PA if the PLO and Hamas formed a national unity government, but added that he was prepared to respond to the threats.