PA crisis intensifies: Hamas members say they do not intend to wait before presenting their new government, despite PLO objections to some of the Islamic group's basic government principles.
Earlier Wednesday it appeared the formation of the new Hamas government will be postponed to next week – following PA leader Abbas' return from the Arab League summit in Sudan and after the Israeli elections – but Hamas now says it has no intention to wait any longer.
Hamas sources said that despite the reservations presented by Abbas, they intend to present the new government before the Legislative Council this coming Saturday, three days ahead of the Israeli elections.
The sources said they are not bound by the political considerations of Abbas and the United States, and added Palestinians must feel government stability taking root and see a genuine government formed and functioning. Hamas noted that forming the government shortly after the IDF's Jericho raid, which painted the PA and Fatah in a negative light, is an opportunity to renew the wave of sympathy enjoyed by the Islamic group.
'Hamas choosing a confrontation'
Meanwhile, Abbas associates said the latest development clearly marks a Hamas decision to head to a confrontation and constitutes a severe challenge against the Palestinian leader and the PA. Hamas' conduct is aimed at leading to a revolution and undermines PA government norms, the sources said.
Nonetheless, a Hamas parliament member told Ynet Wednesday evening that barring any surprises, the government will be presented and receive parliament's approval on Saturday. The source said Hamas would be able to deal with a confrontation if it is forced upon it, but added the Islamic group did not choose a clash.
The source said Hamas has no intention to change basic government principles and expressed his hope that Abbas and Fatah members treat the Islamic group as the winner of democratic elections set to lead the Palestinians in the coming years and not as an enemy.
Hamas government in limbo
The political crisis in the Palestinian Authority, with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the presidency on one side and the prime minister and the executive branch on the other, escalated on Wednesday afternoon.
Palestinian sources told Ynet, following a PLO executive committee meeting in Ramallah Wednesday, that the crisis could end in the dismantlement of the Palestinian government.
The executive committee claims that Hamas is staging political mutiny, and instigated the dispute by refusing to recognize the PA’s Basic Law, by which the PLO and its institutions are the basis for Palestinian government and activities.
At the end of the Wednesday meeting, executive committee members drew up a list of its reservations about Hamas' basic government principles, which Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was to present to prime minister-elect Ismail Haniyeh Thursday. The PLO contends Hamas' failure to recognize the PLO as sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and its failure to recognize international treaties signed by the PLO, including its agreements with Israel.
After Abbas presents the PLO's contentions to Haniyeh Thursday, the two will discuss the issues next week upon Abbas’ return from the Arab Summit. The executive committee’s announcement confirms predictions that the Hamas government will not be approved until after Israeli elections March 28, as Abbas will be in Sudan next week for the summit and for other diplomatic visits. By the date of his return – the next Israeli government is already due to have been sworn in.
'PA is nearing political, legal crisis'
The executive committee’s note urges Abbas to postpone approving the document outlining basic government principles presented by Haniyeh and to reject his proposed cabinet.
A senior Palestinian source told Ynet that a clash between the sides is not expected quite yet, and Hamas could still set up a government ignoring the reservations presented by Abbas and PLO.
“But the significance is that the PA is nearing a political and legal crisis between the presidential institution and the executive committee, and the prime minister and the parliament. This will create deadlock and could lead to the eventual dismantlement of the government by the PA chairman,” the source said.
Fatah and executive committee officials were pessimistic about the chances that Haniyeh and his government would cooperate with Abbas. This, on top of the expected financial catastrophe, could end in the collapse of the government, they warned.
Hamas sources rejected the charges of political mutiny, and instead said this signifies that Fatah of not accepting the democratic choice of the Palestinian people.