In the first sign of a breakthrough regarding the international community’s stance on the newly-announced Palestinian Authority’s (PA) unity government, the deputy-foreign minister of Norway met today in Gaza with the Palestinian Prime Minister.
The deputy-foreign minister of Norway, Raymond Johansen, met with the Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas, as well as other new PA ministers.
Norway declared it would normalize relations with the new coalition government, which includes Hamas and Fatah, and said it would resume assistance to the Palestinian Authority through the PA’s Finance Minister, Salam Fayad.
Johansen, who also met with Palestinian Foreign Minister, Ziyad Abu Amr, said: ‘We hope that all the European countries, and even other countries, will support this unity government. We hope that this unity government will work hard in order to fulfill the expectations of the international community.’
The European Union, of which Norway is not a member, has yet to declare a position towards the new cabinet. However, some EU member states have implicitly expressed willingness to deal with such a cabinet.
A spokesman of the U.S State Department said Monday that his country does not plan to lift the economic sanctions on the PA government, unless Hamas recognizes Israel’s right to exist, renounces violence and accepts past signed agreements with Israel.
Palestinians announced on Saturday their first-ever national unity government, which affirms the Palestinian people’s rights to self-defense against the occupation, to return to their homeland of Palestine, to an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders, all in accordance with international and Arab legitimacies.
The new cabinet also respects past signed agreements that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had ratified with Israel, including the Oslo peace accord of 1993, which stipulated reciprocal recognition between Israel the PLO.
Israel, which still maintains strict military control over the West Bank and East Jerusalem and controls Gaza’s main crossing points, sea and airspace, has recently played down an Arab peace initiative that calls for normal relations with the Israeli state in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands Israel occupied on June 4th, 1967.
Arab states are slated to meet later in March in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, in an ordinary summit meeting for a review of their peace proposal drafted in 2002 by Saudi Arabia, a large Arab state.