Ramallah: Gaza-based Hamas does not support the appointment of the current Palestinian National Authority Foreign Minister Riyadh Al Maliki for another term in the new unity government expected to be announced on Monday, Hamas and Fatah source told Gulf News.
Hamas believes that Al Maliki’s past comments have frequently been negative towards Gaza in general and that he has not achieved anything on the ground to help lift the blockade imposed on the coastal strip. Opponents of Al Maliki also claim that he has not addressed any of the issues of greatest concern to Gazans.
Abbas, on the other hand, did not want major changes in the policies of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and preferred Al Maliki remain in the position to continue his efforts on different international fronts.
Regarding prisoners in Israeli jails and the ministry which represents them in the PNA, Abbas wants a committee to run the prisoners’ affairs in a more active way and for this committee to be subordinate to the the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), not the PNA. The intention is to transfer this issue to the negotiating table with the Israelis as the issue of the prisoners has gained momentum and requires more attention.
Hamas believes that replacing the ministry with a committee will diminish the issue of the prisoners and that the PNA had succumbed to pressure from foreign powers to cancel this ministry which grants funds to prisoners, who are often treated internationally as terrorists, and their families.
In an attempt to avert a possible clash between Hamas and Fatah, it was agreed that the interior ministry portfolio would to be given to the Ramallah premier, Rami Al Hamdallah, who was also agreed upon as the consensus premier. Abbas officially instructed him to form the government.
It was reported that Al Hamadallah refused to head the Palestinian interior ministry until his aides and associates convinced him it would be in the interests of reconciliation.
The Islamist movement also demanded a Hamas nominee be installed as deputy prime minister and insisted that he must have considerable authority.
On Sunday, Hamas made it clear that the Islamist movement had not been consulted about the declared date of announcement of a new government on Monday.
Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman, said in a statement that “it was a unilateral announcement and that his movement had not been consulted about it”.
“There are still many differences that need to be resolved before the announcement,” he stressed.
Abu Zuhri said Hamas has fundamental reservations on Riyadh Al Maliki as a candidate for the foreign affairs ministry in the consensus government as Al Maliki is not a welcome or preferred personality. “The pact will pass and the government will be announced, but Hamas reserves its right to express those reservations about naming Al Maliki as foreign affairs minister,” he said.
Abu Zuhri said that the announcement about the cancellation of the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees’ Affairs was poorly timed and surprised Hamas. He said that after Azzam Al Ahmad, Fatah commissioner for reconciliation with Hamas, agreed with Hamas about a name for this portfolio, the cancellation was announced from Ramallah after Al Ahmad returned there. “This issue is not related to Hamas alone but Hamas has already called for a meeting of the various Palestinian factions to address this issue and discuss it,” he said.
Political analysts and commentators said that Hamas will accept the names to be officially announced by Abbas because of the need for a consensus government. “This is the implementation of a necessity pact for Hamas which will accept whatever comes from Ramallah,” said Talal Okal, a Gaza- based political analyst and commentator. “But the movement will do its best to make the make-up as good for Hamas as possible,” he told Gulf News. “It is solely in the hands of Abbas to decide the final make-up of the consensus government and Hamas knows that and cannot reject it,” he stressed, adding that Hamas cares about the unity deal with Fatah more than Fatah does.