Government Of National Unity ‘Not Serious’ Says Hamas

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PALESTINIAN Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei said Tuesday that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has ‘no objection to the creation of a temporary government of national unity for overseeing’ the planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

This offer was greeted by the Hamas movement as ‘not serious’.

Commenting on a question as to whether he has intentions of reshuffling his cabinet, Qurei told reporters that, ‘the current Palestinian cabinet will remain as it is, and if the factions would like to join, we have no problem.

‘Let us call this cabinet, a government of withdrawal or a government of liberation or a government of a national unity. All those who wish to join the government are welcome.’

Qurei’s proposal however received a cool response from Hamas, which dismissed it as ‘an act of propaganda.’

The Hamas spokesman in Gaza told reporters that his movement ‘doesn’t seriously consider the call of the PNA to form a national unity government to observe the Israeli withdrawal.

‘This offer is not serious for it has been announced through the media without being submitted beforehand to the factions,’ said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

Abu Zuhri added that Hamas had repeatedly urged President Abbas to form a national-Islamic committee that would include all factions ‘in order to observe and coordinate the Israeli withdrawal.

‘It was agreed with President Abbas, and until now we haven’t seen any commitment to forming the committee. We are certain that the Palestinian Authority won’t be able to run the withdrawal by itself,’ he added.

‘We still stick to our position and our demands,’ he concluded.

During a news conference he held following a cabinet meeting in Gaza on Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Qurei also announced that the government is in a state of emergency until the Israeli withdrawal takes place.

Qurei said: ‘The government has decided to announce a state of emergency until the Israeli withdrawal takes place.

‘We do not want to give anybody an excuse to disrupt the process or hold the Palestinian side responsible for anything.

‘We will fulfil all our obligations in order to ensure a calm, organised, and peaceful withdrawal.

‘The Israelis will be held responsible for any deficiency they cause.

‘However, we want the Palestinian side, all forces and factions, and all our people to remain united so as to make this step a crucial one.’

Meanwhile, in a statement to Palestine television, Khalid al-Batsh, leading member in the Islamic Jihad Movement, said that the movement welcomes the proposal for a national unity government but does not intend to participate in such a government unless the occupation ends.

Salih Zaydan, member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), in Gaza also responded to Qurei’s suggestion.

Asked about the DFLP’s position towards the prime minister’s call for participation in a national unity government, Zaydan said: ‘We welcome this proposal and call for translating it into a practical step through holding immediate talks by brother President Abu-Mazin (Mahmud Abbas) and brother Abu-Ala (Qurei) with all forces, personalities, and institutions in order to achieve a national unity governorate based on a joint programme and partnership that guarantee encountering all challenges and dangers posed against our people, be they controlling the state of lawlessness, making reforms, fighting corruption, and addressing the problems that our people suffer from such as unemployment.

‘This move also aims to continue the democratic march through endorsing electoral laws, either of the Legislative Council or local councils, in accordance with the Cairo Declaration, and to set a date for holding these elections.

‘Definitely, in order for this step to be a practical one, the current government should resign in order to start with the implementation of this positive step.’

In the southern Gaza Strip, Khan Younis Governor Husni Zu’rub on Wednesday warned against the seriousness of the situation in Al-Mawasi area as a result of settlers’ continued attacks against citizens and land.

Al-Mawasi is a Palestinian-populated area of southern Gaza which lies between the coast and a block of Israeli settlements.

Zu’rub explained that the settlers took control of two houses on Tuesday in the area and continued their attacks against citizens and their land by spraying them with poisonous substances.

The Khan Younis governor called on human rights and international organisations to intervene to prevent a humanitarian disaster from taking place at the hands of settlers in the area.

Israeli military sources reported Wednesday that an unidentified Palestinian citizen was martyred by occupation forces’ gunfire yesterday near Morag settlement which is built on Palestinian land in southern Gaza.

These sources claimed that the occupation soldiers fired at two gunmen who tried to infiltrate the settlement, wounding one of them.

Meanwhile, Israeli occupation forces are continuing to raid the towns of Allar, Saydah and Attil in Tulkarem Governorate in the West Bank for the second consecutive week.

Palestinian radio has reported that Israeli forces are deployed in large numbers in the towns.

It added that they took over the house of citizen Sa’id Raddad and turned it into a military barracks and a surveillance centre in the town of Saydah.

The Israeli military and paramilitary police also closed the entrances of the three towns with military barricades and prevented citizens from outside the towns from entering them.

In Qalqiliyah, occupation forces set up a military barricade near the eastern gate of the city Wednesday morning and subjected citizens to strict inspection, in addition to obstructing the access of vehicles through this barricade.

Also Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas met the US Consul-General in Jerusalem David Pearce at the Presidential Headquarters in Ramallah in the West Bank.

The two discussed the latest developments in the Palestinian territories in light of the anticipated Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Abbas briefed the US consul-general on the continuation of the Israeli military escalation, in addition to the siege on and closure of the Palestinian territories.

Abbas also met European Parliament President Josep Borrell Fontelles and briefed him on the latest developments in the Palestinian territories in addition to the efforts exerted to push the peace process forward.

In a statement to journalists following the meeting, the European Parliament president described the meeting as ‘important’ and said that ‘Palestinian relations with the European Union are very strong’.

The EU president said he had ‘discussed the issue of the expected Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip with the (Palestinian) president’ and had ‘stressed the European Union’s support for the Palestinian elections’.