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US Promises PLO Unity Elections in 'East Jerusalem'

Jordanian paper says US promised to convince Israel to allow unity govt. elections in Jerusalem. Netanyahu 'deeply troubled' by US stance.
By Dalit Halevy, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 6/3/2014, 3:47 PM

Mahmoud Abbas addresses unity government
Mahmoud Abbas addresses unity government
Flash 90

According to new reports, the American administration has promised the new Fatah-Hamas unity government, which was sworn in this Monday, that it will convince Israel to allow that new government's elections to be held in the eastern part of Jerusalem.

"A source that knows things," apparently from within the Palestinian Authority (PA) or Hamas, was quoted in the Jordanian paper Al-Arab Al-Youm, reporting the American promise to work for parliamentary and presidential elections for the new unity government to be held in the Israeli capital.

The source added that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry later this week in the Jordanian capital of Amman.

While Kerry "expressed concern" by telephone to Abbas on Sunday over the inclusion of terrorist organization Hamas in the new unity government, Kerry told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday that the US would work with the new government, claiming it was "an interim technocratic government...that does not include members affiliated with Hamas."

Netanyahu responded to the American decision on Tuesday, saying he was "deeply troubled" that the US would work with the new government backed by Hamas, a group that has murdered "countless innocent civilians."

"All those who genuinely seek peace must reject President Abbas' embrace of Hamas, and most especially, I think the United States must make it absolutely clear to the Palestinian president that his pact with Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks Israel's liquidation, is simply unacceptable," Netanyahu added.

Despite the American claims of non-affiliation with Hamas, three of the ministers in the new unity government came from Hamas-controlled Gaza. While they were denied entry to Samaria to attend the swearing-in ceremony in Ramallah by the IDF, they were reported to be sworn in via a live video feed.

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz attacked the American decision, saying "if these (ministers) are people who identify with Hamas, Hamas identifies with them and appointed them, then they are representatives of Hamas. This is a Hamas government, and Hamas is a terror organization."

Hamas influence in the unity government, which it has adamantly expressed in the past it will control, was exemplified on Monday when Hamas opposition to the closing of the Ministry of Prisoners nearly scuppered the entire unity government. Only a last minute deal to keep the Ministry without a designated minister appointed to it saved the process.

The unity government in its inclusion of Hamas and Islamic Jihad constitutes a change in the framework of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) government. The PLO, which is recognized internationally as representing the "Palestinian people" and has governed them until now in Judea and Samaria through the PA, has never rejected terrorism.