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Hamas-Fatah unity government puts Israel in a corner

Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 03 June 2014/04 Shabaan 1435

The struggle for freedom in the occupied Palestine received a boost over the weekend when authorities in both the West bank and Gaza Strip jointly unveiled a government of national consensus. This development ends years of foreign-sponsored perennial violence and division between Mahmoud Abbas-led Fatah, that runs West Bank, and Hamas, which, despite being democratically elected in 2007, has been rejected by Israel and Western nations.

The first test for the new consensus government – made up of 17 non-political technocrats steeped in business, academia and other backgrounds – would be to halt the Knesset-driven construction of “colonial settlements”, as Hamas spokesperson Isra Almodalal put it. “(Israeli authorities) are continuing building colonial settlements which is illegal and immoral,” she said, adding that 82% of the land is in the hands of the Binyamin Netanyahu-led Israel.

”Every single day, (there’s) more violence inside of Jerusalem city. It’s all kinds of apartheid (tricks), stopping all kinds of peace,” Almodalal added.

To illustrate more urgent and practical hurdles facing the new structure, and how Israel’s stance can frustrate progress, Almodalal told Cii Radio that Israel just yesterday refused to let three new ministers travel from Gaza to West Bank. “Because Israel doesn’t welcome this government they refused to give the approval for those three ministers to cross the (border) so they can get to Ramallah… Mahmoud Abbas will be able to come here to Gaza.”

While the Knesset has resorted to restricting movement and withholding taxes it collects on behalf of West Bank, among a host of punitive measures, the US – whose John Kerry last month, albeit in a diplomatic faux pas, warned of Israel’s apartheid outlook – openly pledged its support for the transitional government. It would be inaccurate to interpret this development as a rift in Congress-Knesset ties. In the context of Washington’s record – in terms of the decades-long Middle East clash, that still claims scores of lives, displace thousands and keep millions of Palestinians in exile – the apparent divergence of views is worth noting.

“Even the USA, just yesterday, they said… ‘We will recognise this new government and we will continue supporting them financially’. Even European governments, lots of them, (are supportive),” Almodalal said. Indeed, breaking ranks with its Western neighbours, the UK some years ago described Gaza – where a suffocating air, land and naval siege remains in place – as “prison camp”.

Not only is Israel opposed to this landmark not taking this lying down, but it’s upping the ante, noted the Ismail Haniyeh-led Hamas. “They were actually discussing how they can always block this government,” Almodalal asserted. “It’s really ridiculous that (Israel authorities) are always talking about peace, and this is it. How they can continue lying talking about peace. They’re having all the land. They are continuing to build settlements – it’s illegal and immoral. All types of apartheid.”

While it remains to be seen how far the latest development will yield peace and freedom for the subjugated and suppressed people of Palestine, what is for sure is that a united front is anything but good news for Netanyahu. The biggest achievement for Hamas, Palestinian Liberation Organisation and a host of other entities – including organisations in the diaspora – would be to stick it out even post-2015 elections. For many, the consensus government is the long awaited new beginning.

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