Home inContext Abbas Appoints New Unity Government

Abbas Appoints New Unity Government

Michael Johnson

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a new cabinet of technocrats on Monday following a unity deal with rival Hamas. In front of local media, Abbas, who leads Fatah, praised the new appointees in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

In all, the cabinet will comprise 17 members; nine new officials will be appointed, with eight others continuing their current posts in the government. President Abbas said Rami Hamdallah will remain prime minister until new elections across the Palestinian territories can be held in approximately six months.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with Rami Hamdallah on Monday. (Photo: Reuters)

Even with new leadership comprised of lawyers and former teachers, the international community voiced concern over the participation of Hamas terrorists in Palestinian Authority (PA) operations. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the “international community not to rush to recognize a Palestinian government which has Hamas as part of it and which is dependent on Hamas.” Prime Minister Netanyahu also emphasized that Hamas still calls for violence and the destruction of the Jewish State. Israel cut off U.S.-brokered peace talks with the PA in April after the unity deal was announced.

But at a briefing on Monday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that the Washington intends to work the the new government as long as it adheres to principles underlying the peace process with Israel. The PA already receives $440 million a year from the U.S., as well as political support. However, U.S. law mandates that “any entity effectively controlled by Hamas, [or] any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member” should not receive assistance from Washington. Congressional leaders, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, have already called for a suspension of aid.

Europeans countries also welcomed the new unity government, with EU diplomats seeking the dissolution of Hamas powers through the PA, according to The Economist. The British weekly said that many Hamas ministers in Gaza have abandoned their post and Fatah prisoners have been freed.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said he was “deeply troubled” the U.S. and EU’s decision to back the new government. Hamas’s well-armed terrorist organization still has the military capacity to threaten not only Israel, but other Palestinian organizations as well.