Following the visit of the Palestinian President to the United States
in which he was pressured to prevent a unity government, national unity
talks between Palestinian parties have broken down, and the tension has
turned into violence on the streets in both Gaza and Ramallah.
The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahranoth quoted a senior Palestinian source as saying "pressure applied by the United States on (President) Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is preventing the establishment of a unity government in the Palestinian Authority."
And Sunday evening in an interview with Al-Jazeera television, Abbas said, "I am the President, I have the right to dissolve the government and call for new elections right now, if I chose to. But I would prefer that we find another solution".
Abbas' uncompromising position on the national unity government, buttressed by his visits to the U.S. and talks with the Israeli Prime Minister, have increased tension between his party, Fatah, and the rival Hamas party, which was put in charge of the Palestinian government in January after winning the legislative elections.
Hamas has been prevented from forming their government, however, due to an Israeli/U.S. economic blockade, the detention of one-third of their government officials by Israel, and the ongoing violence of the Israeli military which occupies and rules over all of Palestine.
The Hamas government recently formed an 'Executive Force' of security patrols in Gaza, and it is apparently this force that has clashed with the Security Forces loyal to Abbas and the Fatah party Sunday, resulting in seven deaths and at least fifty injured.
And in Ramallah, large protests broke out in the city center Sunday afternoon, and a group of youth apparently set fire to the Presidential compound, angered by Abbas' uncompromising stance toward the peoples' democratic choice of the Hamas party.
Hamas is known as a 'terrorist' group by Israel and the U.S. for their participation in attacks on Israeli civilians. Since February 2005, however, Hamas has adhered to a ceasefire with Israel, despite hundreds of Israeli violations of the ceasefire that have resulted in more than 500 Palestinians killed since last year (in the same time period, one Israeli has been killed by Hamas-connected resistance fighters).