Fayyad offers to form Fatah-Hamas unity government

Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad yesterday offered Hamas in Gaza to join a unity Palestinian government ahead of Palestinian general elections scheduled for September. PM Fayyad holds the responsibility of forming a new Palestinian cabinet following the sacking of the former cabinet by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last week. Fayyad hinted that Hamas will retain control over Gaza as long as it respects the ceasefire with Israel and the proposal would aim to place the West Bank and Gaza under one governing authority. “The split has been too long and should not continue, and it won’t end by itself. We need to move to end the split,” Fayyad said.

Hamas officials in Gaza did not comment on the proposal and said they needed more details of the plan in order to respond. A unity government, including Hamas, would most likely end any hopes of renewed peace talks with Israel. Israel and the international community refuse to engage with Hamas until it renounces violence and recognises Israel’s right to exist. Fayyad told AFP that the move was aimed at ensuring presidential and legislative elections would go forward by September, after Hamas earlier refused to participate in the PA-run call to vote. Unity remains a high priority for the Palestinian public. Fayyad may be calculating that it is important for earning domestic legitimacy for the PA to position itself as pro-unity, even at the cost of progress in the peace process.