Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will on Saturday formally present the political platform of his anticipated new government, in the wake of his Fatah faction’s unity pact with Hamas, a Palestinian official told The Times of Israel on Friday.
The official, who asked not to be named, said Abbas would tell the PLO’s Central Committee that the new government — scheduled to be established within the next five weeks — would recognize Israel and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. The government would also be committed to a two-state solution, with an independent Palestine alongside Israel.
The new government would support continued negotiations with Israel in order to achieve the two-state solution, the official said.
US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters that Abbas had made similar assurances to US Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone call Thursday night.
“It’s a positive thing,” she said.
Abbas, in his address, will stress that the new government will be comprised of technocrats rather than politicians, according to the official who spoke with The Times of Israel. There will be no Fatah or Hamas representatives in the government, he added.
The official expressed criticism of Israel’s bitter response to the unity pact. The PA’s support for Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, he said, was designed to boost peace efforts, not to cause their collapse. “We knew in advance that Hamas would agree to the conditions that we and the Egyptians had put to them,” he said, “to the effect that the new government would be headed by Abu Mazen [Abbas] and would operate according to his directives, and that an agreed date would be fixed for Palestinian elections.”
The economic sanctions that Israel said Thursday it would impose on the PA — including the use of taxes collected by Israel on the PA’s behalf to offset PA debts to Israel — were likely to lead to the weakening of the PA’s security apparatus, he also said.
The Israeli inner cabinet voted unanimously on Thursday to suspend negotiations with the PA in the wake of the Fatah-Hamas deal. Ministers decided that Israel “will not negotiate with a Palestinian government that incorporates Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of Israel,” a statement said.
Israeli officials said the government decision was carefully worded so as not to rule out a possible resumption of peace talks if, in the next five weeks, Abbas fails to agree with Hamas on the composition of a unity government as scheduled. At the same time, the wording was also designed to make plain that Israel will not negotiate with any Palestinian government that rests on Hamas support even if there are actually no Hamas ministers sitting around the cabinet table.
According to Psaki, “[Kerry's] view is this is a moment of transition and part of the process. We are in a holding period where parties need to figure out what is next.”
“We have always thought there could be a point where we needed to pause and both sides needed to look at what was possible. And we’re clearly at that point now,” she told reporters, adding that the US can’t force the parties to cooperate.