‘I welcome you all on this great day’, said Ismail Haniya last Saturday, just before he was sworn in as Prime Minister of the new Palestinian National Unity Government.

In a special address to the Palestinian Legislative Council, Haniya formally asked for a vote of confidence, and proceeded to lay out the new National Unity Government’s platform:

‘I. On the political level:

‘1. The government affirms that the key to security and stability in the region hinges on ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and recognising the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.

‘The government will work with the Arab brothers and international community to end the occupation and regain the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, foremost of all, the establishment of an independent, fully sovereign state on all the lands that were occupied in 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, so as to establish a solid and cohesive basis for peace, security and prosperity in the entire region and in the next generations.

‘2. The government undertakes to protect the Palestinian people’s higher national interests and rights, safeguard and develop their gains, and work to achieve their national objectives as acknowledged in the resolutions of the national councils, the provisions of the Basic Law, the National Accord Document and the resolutions of the Arab summits.

‘On the basis of all this, the government respects the resolutions of international legitimacy and the agreements signed by the PLO.

‘3. The government will exert special efforts to encourage all Palestinian parties to accelerate the implementation of the Cairo agreement clause regarding the PLO.

‘4. The government reiterates its rejection of the so-called state within temporary borders, stipulated in the US-Israeli plan.

‘5. The government affirms and adheres to the right of return. It calls on the international community to implement UN Resolution 194 regarding the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the land and properties from which they were expelled.

‘6. The government will persistently work to bring about the release of female prisoners and hero prisoners from the Israeli occupation jails as well as the release of abducted PLC deputies, ministers and heads and members of local councils.

‘7. The government pledges to confront the occupation’s measures on the ground, including assassinations, arrests, storming operations and military roadblocks. It also undertakes to address the issue of crossings, siege and closure.

‘8. The government will enhance relations with the fraternal Arab and Islamic countries, other friendly countries and elements that embrace freedom, justice, and openness. It will also enhance it cooperation with regional and international countries on the basis of mutual respect.

‘II. On Jerusalem:

‘1. A higher committee for Jerusalem affairs will be established in coordination with the PLO Executive Committee to follow up on the issue of Palestinian steadfastness in Jerusalem. The government will assign a clear budget for Jerusalem in its general budget.

‘2. The government will confront the Israeli policies in Jerusalem – land, people and holy sites. It will allocate sufficient funds in its budget for supporting the steadfastness of our people in Jerusalem, exposing the occupation’s measures in the city and in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, and promoting the issue of Jerusalem in all regional and international circles. It calls on the sons of the Arab and Islamic nation to bear the responsibility to protect Jerusalem and support its people both politically and in the media.

‘III. On the level of confronting the occupation:

‘1. The government affirms that the resistance in all its forms, including the popular resistance, against the occupation, is a legitimate right of the Palestinian people that has been guaranteed by all international norms and conventions. Our people have the right to defend themselves against any ongoing Israeli aggression.

‘2. Through national accord, the government will work on consolidating the calm to turn it into a comprehensive, mutual and simultaneous calm in return for the Israeli occupation’s pledge to end all measures on the ground, including assassinations, arrests, storming operations, house demolition, razing and confiscation of lands, and excavations in Jerusalem.

‘It should also remove the roadblocks, reopen the crossings, lift restrictions on the freedom of movement, and set a specific deadline for the release of prisoners.

‘3. The government reaffirms the clause in the National Accord Document to the effect that the PLO and the head of the Palestinian National Authority are responsible for the management of the negotiations through their commitment to the Palestinian national objectives and their realisation and based on the protection of Palestinian rights and constants.

‘Any future political agreement will be submitted to the new Palestine National Council for approval. Alternatively, the Palestinian people inside and outside the homeland will hold a referendum on it under a special law to be legislated for this purpose.

‘4. The government will encourage the relevant parties to expedite the resolution of the issue of the captive Israeli soldier within the framework of an honourable prisoners exchange deal and the return of deportees.

‘5. The government affirms that the establishment of peace and stability in the region hinges on an end to the occupation; granting the Palestinian people their national rights; removal of the racist wall and settlements; an end to the Judaization of Jerusalem, the annexation policy, and all forms of racist discrimination; and the restoration of rights to their owners.

‘IV. On the security level:

‘1. The national unity government is aware of the difficult domestic security situation and believes that keeping the current security situation under control is one of its most important priorities. This requires full cooperation between the Presidency and the government. To achieve this, the government will adopt the following:

‘A. Calling for and reestablishing a higher national security council, considering it the term of reference for all the security apparatuses and the framework that will organise their work and define their policies.

‘B. Structuring and building the security apparatuses on professional bases, secure their needs, carry out comprehensive reforms to strip them of the partisan and factional characteristics, keep them away from polarisation and political struggle, enhance their loyalty to the homeland first and foremost, have them pledge to implement the decisions of their political leaders, whoever they are, and have those working in the security establishment to abide by the duties they are tasked to carry out.

‘C. Implementing the work regulations pertaining to the security apparatuses that were endorsed by the PLC.

‘D. Drafting a comprehensive security plan to end all the manifestations of chaos, security lawlessness and encroachments; to protect lives, honour, public and private property; to control weapons and ensure security for the citizen; to end injustice through the rule of law; and to support the police to allow them to perform their duties and enforce the law in the best possible manner.’

Haniya pledged that the government ‘will fully cooperate with the judicial power to reform, reactivate and protect the judiciary and all its agencies in a manner that will enable it to perform its duties within the framework of enhancing justice and combatting corruption, abiding by the independence of the judiciary, and affirming and enforcing the rule of law and applying it in a transparent and fair manner to all.’

He said the government ‘affirms it will work in accordance with the Basic Law’.

He added: ‘It will also work with the PLC and judicial branch to develop the Palestinian political system so as to create one, unified, and strong national authority.’

V. On the legal level:

1. The government will fully cooperate with the judicial power to reform, reactivate, and protect the judiciary and all its agencies in a manner that will enable it to perform its duties within the framework of enhancing justice and combating corruption, abiding by the independency of the judiciary, and affirming and enforcing the rule of law and applying it in a transparent and fair manner to all. It will also follow up on cases of corruption and embezzlement of public funds.

‘VI. On the economic situation’

Haniya said:

‘1. The government seeks to end all forms of the unjust siege that is imposed on the Palestinian people.

‘2. The government calls for reviewing the Paris economic agreement in a way that will liberate the Palestinian economy.’

He added that the new governent will also ‘give priority to the development of the national economy, protect the productive and public service sectors, and encourage national exports while supporting the national products by all possible means, and will develop economic and trade ties with the Arab and Islamic world, the European Union and the rest of the world.’

He added that the government ‘will support the agricultural sector and increase the budget allocated for its development’.

It will ‘regulate the payment of salaries to the public sector employees and abide by the schedule of the payment of back wages to the public and private sector employees’.

He also pledged it will ‘take care of workers, farmers and fishermen and seek to alleviate their suffering through support and special projects.’

Haniya said the government ‘will adopt an administrative and financial reform plan and will cooperate with the PLC in the legislation of laws to bolster reforms and combat corruption.’

Pledging to abide by Palestinian values regarding internatinal relations, Haniya concluded: ‘The government is eager to establish a sound relationship with the European Union, Russia, the People’s Republic of China, Japan, India and the Latin America states.

‘We expect them to take practical measures to lift the siege off our people, pressure the occupation authorities to end the siege, respect human rights stipulated in international conventions, withdraw from our occupied lands, and end its recurring aggressive measures against our people. The government will also seek to bolster relations with the UN Security Council permanent members.

‘The government calls on the US Administration to reassess its stands on the Palestinian cause, respect the Palestinian people’s option embodied in the national unity government, and renounce its policy of double standards. The government seeks good relations between the Palestinian and American people.’