A senior Palestinian source told Ynet Thursday that “pressure applied by the United States on (President) Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is preventing the establishment of a unity government in the Palestinian Authority.”
According to the source, difficulties in the talks between Abbas and Hamas regarding a unity government began to surface shortly after Abbas’ meeting with US consul general in Jerusalem, Jack Wallace, a few days before the president left for the US to attend the opening of the UN General Assembly.
The source added that during the meeting Wallace communicated to Abbas the unequivocal message that the US opposes the establishment of a unity government.
Wallace told Abbas that he would hear the same message during his meetings with President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The source said the Americans made it clear to Abbas that the correct move from their standpoint would be to dissolve the parliament and establish an interim Palestinian government followed by general elections.
The US asked Abbas to better prepare Fatah for the next elections, according to the source.
The Americans further requested that Abbas not cooperate on the transfer of funds to be used for the payment of salaries to PA officials prior to the Ramadan holiday, as this would be credited to the Hamas-led government.
The officials are expected to receive an advance on their salaries over the weekend.
The source said the current chances for the establishment of PA unity government are slim, despite the fact that Abbas supports such a move. As a result, the sources said, the situation in the Authority is likely to deteriorate to a direct confrontation between Hamas and Fatah. The fact that some family members of senior Fatah officials have left the PA is indicative of the expected eruption of violence, the source said.
According to the source, such a confrontation can only be prevented if Israel's threats are carried out and it launches a wide-ranging operation in the Gaza Strip.
Among PA officials, the assessment is that such an operation is only a matter of time, the source said. “The question is if it will happen after the chapter of the kidnapped Israeli soldier ends or before Gilad Shalit is released,” he said.
Regarding the prisoner swap, the source said contacts were continuing but technical details related to the timing of the exchanges were holding up Shalit’s release.
It appears that the obstacles blocking a Palestinian unity government, American pressures and the blame-slinging between Hamas and Fatah are causing Hamas to reconsider the group’s positions on the political plane.
Palestinian Minister of Labor Abd al-Rahman Zidan said that within Hamas, deep and serious deliberations were ongoing on the possibility of establishing a government led by more professionals and fewer politicians, and headed by an independent figure.
In a conversation with Palestinian news agency Ramatan, Zidan said that such a government would enjoy a security net, and would allow a distinction between the government actions and Hamas’ political stances, which the group doesn’t intend to modify.
According to Zidan, this would not be a surrender on the part of Hamas, “but there are international conditions that Hamas can’t accept, and therefore we must take steps to prevent excuses.”
The Palestinian minister was apparently referring to the excuses that are preventing the international community from lifting the economic and diplomatic blockade on the Palestinian government.