Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz's decision to join Benjamin Netanyahu's government caught many in the Palestinian Authority by surprise but did not raise hope that the political change will lead to a resumption of peace talks.
In an official statement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaina called on Israel's government to "take advantage of the new broad coalition to expedite peace with the Palestinian people, based on international decisions, and achieve a just and comprehensive peace."
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He said that the new coalition should be a "peace coalition and not a war coalition" as it was the only way to fight the great dangers threatening the region as a result of the political deadlock. Abu Rudaina stressed that an agreement based on the two-state solution must be reached and called for an end to settlement construction.
"I hope that the political change will bring a breakthrough, but I'm not entirely sure it will," a Palestinian state official told Ynet. "The peace process is stuck because Netanyahu never really wanted to promote it." The official dismissed speculation that Mofaz had joined the government over the Palestinian issue.
Other officials in Ramallah said that Kadima may soften tone down the government's policy but that "Lieberman was still an integral part of it."
"Ehud Barak said the same things Mofaz said and nothing changed," sources in Ramallah said. They estimated that Kadima members may leave the party and join other movements such as the Labor or Yair Lapid's new party.
The Palestinians nevertheless understand that Kadima under Mofaz's leadership is wholly different than Livni's Kadima. "We don't want to decide for the Israelis who they want as ministers or party heads but Livni's ties with our leadership were better than Mofaz's," they said. "In any case we are waiting to see whether any actual changes occur."
The Palestinians are aware that the Iran issue has pushed the peace process aside and that Israel's public agenda is dominated by the nuclear threat. The leadership in Ramallah has accepted that there could be no political development before the US elections in November.
The formation of a new unity government received much attention in the West Bank. Sources said that the move took the Palestinians by surprise but that they are more concerned about the prisoners' hunger strike.
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