US accepts new Palestinian unity government, turns aside Israel’s objections
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday night, June 2, that the US intends to work with the new Palestinian government despite Israel's concerns. Psaki also said US Secretary of State John Kerry called Netanyahu to relay the US position, without offering details, after Mahmoud Abbas swore in the new Palestinian government earlier in the afternoon.
She said the US will continue to send aid to the Palestinians, but will closely watch what she called the "interim technocratic government."
The EU has said it welcomes unity and would continue funding any government that meets the conditions for aid: recognition of Israel, endorsement of former accords and abstaining from violence. Both major Western powers therefore brushed off Netanyahu’s call on the world to shun the new government over its partnership with a terrorist organization.
The Israeli Security Cabinet decided in an emergency session Monday night not to hold peace talks with this government and authorized the prime minister to impose financial sanctions. Abbas would be held responsible for any rocket fire and terrorist actions out of the Gaza Strip it was decided.
debkafile reported earlier Monday:
US Secretary of State John Kerry stated after his Sunday night phone call to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) that the Obama administration would judge the Palestinian unity government by its deeds. Recognition would depend on the new regime recognizing Israel, upholding previously-signed Palestinian international undertakings and abstaining from terrorism and other violence.
Abbas assured the Secretary that the new Palestinian ministers were appointed by him and they would comply his wishes and policies.
Kerry must realize, after a year of being messed about in an abortive peace process, that Abu Mazen is a chameleon, apt to trot out different words and decisions as the moment takes him and then do just the opposite..
But how to explain the acceptance of this sliding scale by the Secretary of State in the face of the most outrageous Palestinian pretences?
debkafile offers three possible explanations for this meekness:
1. John Kerry has chosen to put a brave face on the crash of his Middle East initiatives in late April and carry on as though his efforts may yet bring Israel and the Palestinians together for a peace accord – even though it is clear to the region or even Washington that the process is dead.
2. Netanyahu Sunday issued a dramatic call on the world not to recognize the new Palestinian unity government. “Hamas is a terrorist organization that seeks Israel’s destruction,” he said. “Such a government would not bolster peace but strengthen terror.” He added later that he couldn’t understand how when terrorism raised its head in Europe in the form of the vile murders at the Brussels Jewish Museum, there were European leaders who had friendly words for the Palestinian terrorists, Hamas.
The same night, another Palestinian rocket landed on the Israeli side of the Gaza border.
Later, the prime minister was quoted as telling the security cabinet that he had been assured that Washington would not extend “immediate” recognition to the new Palestinian government.
This phrasing betrayed Netanyahu’s awareness that the Obama administration did not propose to put up a fight against dialogue with Hamas, notwithstanding its terrorist record.
Therefore, while condemning the Palestinian government of reconciliation and promising to cut off ties, the Israeli prime minister has not so far suspended the transfer of funds to Ramallah or abandoned cooperation with Palestinian security services – although these steps may still come..
3. debkafile’s Washington and Jerusalem sources report that Washington did inform Jerusalem that it stands by a written US commitment not to recognize or cooperate with a Palestinian regime which has a Hamas component. It was first given in May 2011 by Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, and endorsed by her successor John Kerry at the outset of Israel-Palestinian peace talks last year.
This commitment, if it was still valid, was clearly trashed after the Palestinians managed announced their new shared cabinet.
Hamas too, had to grapple with Abu Mazen’s prevarications. It did so by staging a crisis every few hours up to the last minute before the final installment of the new government at 1 o’clock Monday.
The union, if it finally comes to be, will stand on shaky legs and be only skin deep.
Hamas has no intention of giving up its control of the Gaza Strip and subsuming its rule into the joint government, or of giving up its autonomous military arm, the Ezz e-Din Al-Qassam.
Even Palestinian daydreamers can’t imagine Hamas and Fatah agreeing on the conditions for holding free elections the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a new parliament and president to succeed Abbas.
Therefore, John Kerry, Binyamin Netanyahu, Abu Mazen and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh are playing along with a political game, although even play-acting may have consequences when politicians are on the stage.
One is the postponement of the agonizing decisions the Israeli and Palestinian leaders would have been compelled to make for a peace accord. Abbas has won back some of the international credibility he forfeited by dumping the US-led peace process. But the big winner is Hamas – which is why it is willing to put up with a lot – although it dug in its feet at the last moment over the office of Palestinian prisoners and demanded that all Palestinian security agencies declare war on “the Zionists.”
By its reconciliation with Abbas’ Fatah, this extremist Islamic group gains respect in Tehran and Moscow, after losing its allies in Damascus and Cairo, as well qualifying for international legitimacy without compromising its basic tenets and practices.