News Analysis: Hard nut to crack for Palestine to form transitional unity gov't

2013-04-20 16:19:43 GMT2013-04-21 00:19:43(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

by Saud Abu Ramadan

GAZA, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Forming a transitional unity government that ends around six years of internal Palestinian division between Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and deciding on the date of holding the general legislative and presidential elections in the Palestinian territories are still marking time.

Observers and analysts believe that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), is the only high-ranking official who is authorized to issue two decrees; the first is related to forming a government and the second is related to holding the elections.

There had been three major positive changes that make the atmosphere ripe for forming the unity government and preparing for the elections; the resignation of PNA Premier Salam Fayyad, finalizing the internal elections of Hamas movement in Cairo and updating the Palestinian voters' record.

The analysts and observers were divided on the reasons related to why the internal reconciliation between Abbas Fatah Party, which rules the West Bank, and Hamas movement, which has been ruling the Gaza Strip since 2007, is still marking time amid the presence of the three major positive changes.

However, a member in the executive committee of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) told Xinhua Friday on condition of anonymity that Abbas told the executive committee members that he will start discussions and consultations to form a new government soon.

PRACTICAL MOVES

Raed N'eirat, the political science professor at al-Najjah University in the West Bank city of Nablus, told Xinhua that there has been an agreement that as soon as the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) finishes the update of the voters' registration, Abbas begins to form the government.

According to the reconciliation understanding that both Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal had signed in Qatar in 2011, Abbas forms and heads a transitional unity government for Gaza and the West Bank for maximum six month and the government prepares for holding the general elections.

"I believe that in the current circumstances, it is time for Abbas to form the transitional unity government because this government will practically work on preparing for holding the elections in the Palestinian territories and will also be in charge of reconstructing the Gaza Strip," said N'eirat.

Earlier on Saturday, Abbas Zaki, a senior official in Abbas Fatah Party, told "Voice of Palestine" Radio that Abbas and Meshaal may hold a meeting in Ankara within this week during Abbas visit to Turkey to decide on forming the unity government and setting up a date for holding the elections.

"I believe that everything is ripe and Hamas doesn't have anymore excuse postponing the implementation of the reconciliation understandings," said Zaki, adding "The Palestinian parties should count on themselves because they have signed agreements and they have the Palestinian people's wish to end division."

EXPECTED SCENARIOS

As the implementation of the internal Palestinian reconciliation agreements is still marking time, amid positive signs and progress on the ground, analysts began to think about the scenarios that are expected to occur within the coming two weeks concerning the government and the other internal Palestinian issues.

Sameeh Shbeib, the political science professor at Beir Zeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah, told Xinhua that he has in mind three major scenarios related to forming a new Palestinian government after President Abbas accepted the resignation of PM Fayyad more than a week ago.

"Asking Fayyad to form a new government is ruled out because the PLO executive committee accepted his resignation, so there is a possibility that Abbas begins to form a unity government that he heads and it will compress technocrat ministers from all parties including Hamas," said Shbeib.

The political science expert said that the new government will be transitional for three months and its mission will be to prepare for holding the presidential and legislative elections in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and east Jerusalem as well as the elections of the PLO parliament in exile.

"The third scenario is that Abbas will soon designate an independent Palestinian figure and asks him to form a Palestinian government instead of Fayyad's government, and this government will be unlimited with a period of time and its mission won't be preparing for holding elections," said Shbeib.

The leaders of Hamas movement and Abbas Fatah Party should decide immediately before time runs out and before Abbas finds no other choices and forms another government that keeps division between the Gaza Strip and the West bank going on.

Palestinian media reported on Saturday that the PLO executive committee members, who met in Ramallah on Friday, called on Hamas movement to respond to Fatah calls to immediately form a technocrat transitional unity government that prepares for holding the elections.

The media also reported that Hamas premier Ismail Haneya, who is also a deputy to Meshaal is currently in Qatar attending a meeting of Hamas politburo held in Doha to agree on a unified Hamas decision related to joining a transitional unity government and deciding on a date for holding the elections.

Tawfiq Abu Shumar, a Gaza-based political analyst, told Xinhua that forming a transitional unity government or setting up a date for holding the general elections "are not the most important issues for the Palestinians," adding "to see Fatah and Hamas ending their substantial feud is the most important."

"I believe that ending the internal division between Gaza and the West Bank, ending the political differences between Fatah and Hamas, achieving the social reconciliation among the populations and resolving security complications are more important than forming the government," said Abu Shumar.

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