Ahmed Yousef, adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, announced on Saturday that dueling Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have agreed that the next Palestinian government will be located in the Gaza Strip, likely meaning that the next head of government will be from Gaza and affiliated with Hamas.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, based in Syria, later this week to discuss implementing the Palestinian reconciliation deal signed in May. According to Yousef, the meeting will bring several disagreements between the sides to a close, including the issue of who will be the next prime minister. “Ismail Haniyeh [of Hamas] and Salam Fayyad [of Fatah] were causes of disagreement in the previous stage, and so both will be exempted,” he said.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas (L) and Hamas Prime Minister Khaled Mashaal
Until now, Abbas has reportedly insisted on keeping Fayyad, trusted by Washington, in his post. However, Fayyad wrote on his Facebook page Friday that he is “more than ready to leave respectfully.” And on Monday, Fayyad used an interview with the Al-Quds newspaper to call on all parties to agree on a new prime minister, saying he refused “to be used as a pretext for continuing the split.”
If the reports are true, Abbas has just thrown in the towel — most likely because of power lost in his failed statehood bid at the UN. Accepting a unity government with Hamas and allowing for the government to be stationed in Gaza would signify the end of “moderate” rule over the Palestinian people. Hamas’s next step is predictable: It would force all Fatah-affiliated politicians from the government, consolidating its rule over the West Bank.