Israel: World must not recognize Palestinian govt
President Mahmoud Abbas says he expects a joint government of his Fatah party and Hamas Islamists will be announced on June 2
Israel’s prime minster on Sunday warned against any international rush to recognize a Palestinian government due to be announced under a unity pact between the Fatah and Hamas Islamist groups.
Israel and the West classify Hamas as a terrorist organization and have no official dealings with the movement, which advocates the destruction of the Jewish state.
Meeting Saturday with French peace activists in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where his limited self-rule government is based, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he expects a joint government of his Fatah party and Hamas Islamists to be announced on June 2.
"We will announce the government the day after tomorrow, it will be formed of technocrats and independents,” he said.
None of the unity government's members would belong to either the Western-backed Fatah, which rules the Israeli-occupied West Bank, or Islamist Hamas, which holds sway in the Gaza Strip, Abbas said.
The formation of the unity of the government would be a completion to a unity deal the two sides agreed to last month.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said he could not confirm that all the details would be completed by Monday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday urged the world no to recognize the planned the move by the Palestinian sides.
"I call on all responsible elements in the international community not to rush to recognize a Palestinian government which has Hamas as part of it and which is dependent on Hamas," Netanyahu, who has said such an administration would be a front for the Islamist group, told his cabinet.
"Hamas is a terrorist organization that calls for Israel's destruction, and the international community must not embrace it. That would not bolster peace, it would strengthen terror," Netanyahu said in public remarks at the cabinet meeting.
Both Hamas and Fatah see benefits to a unity pact, though disagreements have blocked them from achieving such a government for years. The deal would heal a rift that opened between Fatah and Hamas in 2007 when Hamas seized control of Gaza.
Under a strict blockade imposed by neighbors Israel and Egypt, Hamas struggles to prop up Gaza's economy and pay its 40,000 employees. Abbas, for his part, wants to shore up his domestic support since the collapse of U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel last month.
Israel Threatens Boycott
Israel suspended negotiations with Abbas as soon as he announced a unity deal was in the works on April 23. It has said it would impose economic sanctions against any joint government.
Abbas said Israel "informed us today [Saturday] they would boycott us if we announced the government." He did elaborate on which measures Israel has threatened to take.
A Palestinian official said Israel had denied requests by three Gaza Palestinians expected to be named as ministers to attend the new government’s swearing-in ceremony in the West Bank.
Israel withheld tax revenues from Abbas last month, in retaliation for Abbas signing accords with international organizations, a step Israel said undermined peace talks.
In his remarks on Saturday, Abbas said a joint government with Hamas would continue to abide by his policy of recognizing Israel, though the Islamist group insists it would not change its own policy of rejecting Israel's existence.
Abbas has been keen to assure Western donor countries he will remain the key Palestinian decision-maker and security coordination between his forces and Israel will continue.
Abbas asked Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Thursday to head the new unity government, though Fatah and Hamas still disagreed about other cabinet appointments.
In a move seen as boosting control over his party ahead of forming a unity government, Abbas ousted five senior party members on Saturday seen as allied with a leading rival, Mohammed Dahlan, the Palestinian news agency WAFA, said.