In a speech delivered to Palestinian demonstrators Wednesday, Haniyeh declared that he had no intention of recognizing Israel – the chief precondition posed by the Quartet to cooperating with the Palestinian government.
During the meeting with Bush, Abbas was expected to “market” the new Palestinian unity government as a leadership that would recognize prior international decisions and would conform to Arab peace initiatives that recognize Israel.
'No' to Quartet
But while Abbas lined up meetings abroad, back in Gaza Haniyeh unequivocally proclaimed, “They demand we condemn the resistance and recognize the legitimacy of the occupation. We are duty-bound to the Prisoners’ Document, which doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the occupation.
“We do not accept the Quartet’s conditions, but we also do not accept that the present situation continues,” the Palestinian prime minister told demonstrators demanding months of unpaid wages.
Haniyeh’s comments only reinforced recent statements by senior Hamas elements that the party does not plan to recognize Israel. This stance poses a severe challenge to Abbas’ attempts to promote the unity government which he labored over during weeks of meetings prior to leaving for the UN summit in New York.
Fatah defined Hamas’ hawkish statements as the group’s betraying of the understandings laboriously reached on matters of policy. Fatah noted that the comments make Hamas’ true intentions regarding a unity government questionable and further complicate the Palestinian situation.
Destined for failure?Many in the Palestinian Authority assessed that the relations and understandings between Fatah and Hamas were destined to run aground, and Abbas may still decide to dismantle the government. In the next few days, the Fatah faction was expected to vote no-confidence in the Hamas government for the first time since it took power.
Other sources assessed however that Hamas’ hardening stance was a playing card in their attempt to bring about a reshuffling of PLO institutions in a way that promises their full integration into the leadership and decision-making.
According to Arab media reports, Hamas demanded that Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal be appointed deputy chairman of the PLO, i.e., second to Abbas. It should be noted that the PLO is signed on the political agreements with Israel.
Discussions regarding the new Palestinian coalition were expected to be renewed upon Abbas’ return from the US, although most Palestinian officials were pessimistic about their success.