ABBAS ESTABLISHES GOVERNMENT BY DECREE – has the full support of Israel and the US

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PRESIDENT ABBAS, now ruling by decree is set to establish a national salvation front government, without any Hamas members, and without any reference to the Palestinian parliament.

The United States and Israel have already decided that they will recognise such a government.

The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says prospects for peace will be boosted by the creation of a new Palestinian government without the Hamas party.

Israel will regard such a cabinet as a partner, he said, adding that Hamas’ exclusion ‘creates opportunities’.

A faction of the Olmert government is arguing that Israel should now seek a quick deal with the Abbas regime to split the West Bank, creating a Palestinian entity that could be called a state by Israel and the US.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to swear in a cabinet led by his Fatah party.

The US says it will lift an aid embargo once the new cabinet takes over.

The US consul-general in Jerusalem, Jacob Walles, said there were no obstacles to re-engaging with the new government, which would have full US support.

On Saturday night, Abbas signed a decree enabling him to by-pass parliamentary approval and appoint a new cabinet on Sunday, with Finance Minister Salam Fayyad set to become the new prime minister.

Meanwhile in Damascus, Dr Musa Abu-Marzuq, the deputy chief of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement-Hamas, has asserted the movement’s categorical rejection of US President George W Bush’s proposal to send international forces to Gaza.

The Palestinian leader clarified that the Hamas movement strongly rejects the deployment of international forces in Gaza.

He said: ‘We will not agree to the deployment of international forces in Gaza. This means separating Gaza from the West Bank in the current stage.

‘We believe that the dialogue should focus on the exit of the Israeli forces from the West Bank and the halt on the construction of the wall that has inflicted enormous damage to the Palestinian people.

‘Therefore, we need international forces in the West Bank rather than in Gaza.’

Abu-Marzuq stressed that the security situation in Gaza is totally stable and that the situation has returned to normal after decisive action was taken.

He added that the clashes have stopped and security will be imposed.

Abu-Marzuq said: ‘This is the option taken by the unity government.

‘The Interior Minister made the decision to impose law and order and he does not need to consult anyone about this.’

The Hamas leader belittled the importance of the US statements about providing support for President Mahmud Abbas.

He said: ‘The US support for President Mahmud Abbas is not new. It was mere verbal support even before Hamas came to power. It was not support through pressuring Israel or by giving financial assistance. All this support is verbal.

‘As for practical and concrete US support, it is support for Israel in its attacks on the resistance in all its forms. Thus, we do not give any attention to this support because it is not reflected on the ground although it was reflected in the past through support for Muhammad Dahlan’s group and through relations with all the Arab regimes.’

The deputy chief of the Hamas movement’s Political Bureau said that the events that transpired in the Palestinian territories may be a clear message to the United States to revisit its foreign policy and change its attitude in dealing with nations.

The United States should learn to deal with the Palestinian people in a democratic manner rather than in a selective manner the way it wishes, he said.

Dr Abu-Marzuq expressed hope that the emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers that is sponsored by Cairo will have positive results that will impact directly on the Palestinian people and on their interests and unity of opinion and on ending the blockade since the blockade was primarily instrumental in detonating the situation in the Palestinian territories.

On whether there is still hope for a political resolution of the crisis after President Mahmud Abbas proclaimed the dissolution of the national unity government, Dr Musa Abu-Marzuq said: ‘The dissolution decision was a hasty one.

‘President Abbas made that decision in view of the pressures on him by the team surrounding him.

‘I do not believe that it will have a major impact because it does not separate Gaza from the West Bank.

‘Therefore, there is no resolution except through political accord.

‘In this regard, we call for a responsible dialogue that is distant from external dictates.’

The Hamas leader disclosed that political contacts are being held between them and several political factions outside the Palestinian territories.

However, he added that the matter requires time until its features crystallise.

Also, Hamas has announced its utter rejection of the decision by PNA President Mahmud Abbas to appoint Finance Minister Salam Fayyad as head of an emergency government that was announced by the president after Hamas seized control of the security headquarters in Gaza.

Hamas leader Sami Abu-Zuhri said: ‘We utterly reject Abbas’s decision to appoint Finance Minister Salam Fayyad as head of the illegal emergency government,’ adding that this decision is tantamount to ‘a coup against the ballot box and a coup against the legitimacy granted to Hamas through the ballot boxes’.

The Hamas leader went on to say that ‘the Palestinian government will continue to exist in accordance with the law, and any other procedures are illegal. If anything else happens, then we in Hamas reserve the right to take a different view of matters.’

In Bethlehem, on the 16 June, the armed wing of Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, in the West Bank, announced that the movement has given a general amnesty to Hamas members.

A leader of the Al Aqsa Brigades in the West Bank, Abu Uday, said that ‘after the agreement with Zakaria Zubaydi, the leader of the Al Aqsa Brigades in Jenin, and the other area leaders, we have decided to forbid members from committing any revenge operations against the societies and leaders of Hamas’.

Abu Uday added, ‘The only way to put an end to Fatah’s anger in the West Bank is to let the government solve the conflict, despite Hamas’ crimes in Gaza.’

The Al Aqsa Brigades announced the following:

1. It is completely forbidden for any activists from Fatah to attack any society or member of Hamas.

2. The brigades must enable the security services to enforce security in the West Bank and work within the authority of the emergency government created by Abu Mazin (Mahmud Abbas).

3. The brigades pledge in front of the Palestinian people to give them security and a good life for every Palestinian who lives in the West Bank, whatever his/her political loyalty. The brigades will protect his/her house, money and honour.

4. The brigades urge the national forces and Arab liberation movement to create a court to try the attackers of Fatah members and their property in the Gaza Strip.