The Palestinian unity government, expected to be made public on Saturday, has drawn various reactions at many levels.

The Palestinian unity government, expected to be made public on Saturday, has drawn various reactions at many levels.

The first unofficial Israeli government response came from a senior minister, who considered the agreement among Palestinians ‘a step backward’. Israel considers the Palestinians’ affirmation of their legitimate rights to self-defense and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland, to be non-recognition of Israel.

Israel still maintains strict military control over the West Bank and occupies Gaza’s crossing points such as Rafah, Karni and Beit Hanoun, jointly with Gaza’s shore and airspace.

In Cairo, the Arab States’ League welcomed the Palestinian declaration, hoping it would lead to peace in the region.

The Organization of Islamic Conference also hailed the agreement and called on the Quartet (United Nations, United States, European Union, Russia), to deal with the newly-born unity government by lifting the economic embargo.

United Nations Secretary General, Pan Ki-Moon, voiced his hope that the new Palestinian cabinet would respect all previously signed agreements and the ‘principles’ set forth by the Quartet.

Russia, a member of the Quartet, welcomed the announcement and called it ‘a significant event’ that would lead to a unified Palestinian policy line.

The French Foreign Minister, Phillipe Douste-Blazy, was quoted as saying that ‘a new page in the relations between the Hamas government and the international community could begin.”

Italy welcomed the new PA government, calling it an ‘opportunity that should not be missed.’

White House spokesman Tony Snow said, ‘Our position has been consistent, which is, you need a Palestinian government that is going to, in fact, abide by the Quartet conditions.’

Speaking to reporters Thursday, EU spokeswoman Emma Udwin said that the European Commission had not yet assessed the new government’s program.

The Quartet demands that any Palestinian government recognizes Israel, renounces violence and accepts past signed agreements before the economic embargo which was imposed last year is lifted.

On Thursday, Palestinian Prime Minister designate Ismail Haniya presented President Abbas with the line-up of his new unity cabinet, ending weeks of talks with all Palestinian factions.
The unity cabinet, to be viewed for approval by the Palestinian Legislative Council on Saturday, would respect past signed agreements with Israel.