Hamas’s decision not to join the PA cabinet would not affect the smooth takeover of the Gaza Strip after the Israeli withdrawal, PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Tuesday.
‘We hope to exert every possible effort to ensure a smooth evacuation of Gaza with the cooperation of all the groups, including the Palestinian government,’ Erekat told The Associated Press.
Hamas rejects invitation to join PA cabinet
Hamas on Monday dismissed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s invitation to join his government, a Hamas official said.
‘Following deep consultations within movement institutions, we in Hamas decided not to participate in the proposed government,’ Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told The Associated Press..
Abbas had repeatedly invited Hamas to join his government. On Sunday, Fatah’s central committee issued an official invitation to all Palestinian factions, including Hamas, to engage in immediate coalition talks.
While Israel is pressing the Palestinian AuthorityÃ‚Â to destroy Palestinian resistance groups, Abbas hoped to be able to fulfill the obligations he accepted under the international ‘roadmap’ to control such groups by integrating them into PA institutions as a necessary step towards dismantling their military wings.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Instead of joining the PA cabinet, Hamas reiterated its proposal for the formation of a unified leadership, separate from the PA, to work out a plan on how to deal with Israel’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip later this summer.
Abu Zuhri affirmed that his group’s decision not to join the cabinet would not harm relations with the PA or its ruling Fatah movement.
Following harsh Israeli and American criticisms over allowing Hamas to take part in parliamentary elections while maintaining a military wing, and due to the significant gains Hamas made in the recent local elections, Abbas last month postponed parliamentary elections.
The delay was meant to give hime time bothÃ‚Â to convince Hamas to take further steps towards transforming itself into a political party, and to reform and unify his own highly fragmented Fatah movement.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei had said Sunday that talks with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group on setting up a ‘national unity’ government would begin this week.
Abbas is still expected to meet with Hamas leaders Thursday in Damascus.