After talks between the two major Palestinian political parties Hamas and Fatah on Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority announced that elections will be held in May, and the interim government which will rule between now and then will not include currently appointed Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad.Fayyad’s appointment had been opposed by the Hamas party, which won legislative elections and majority control of the Palestinian Authority in January 2006.
The U.S., E.U., and the Quartet instigated economic sanctions against the regime in response to their surprise victory, whilst bolstering funding to Fatah, and continued its package millions of dollars to improve the security and policing institutions of Fatah.
Israel and the West attempted to insert a wedge between the two, who after months of clashes, formed a National Unity Government (NUG) in March 2007, headed by Hamas’ Ismail Haniya.
Hamas, who was becoming increasingly sidelined by the International community, and who began fearing for its own position, instigated a pre-emptive coup in June 2007, in an attempt to thwart what it saw as an inevitable ousting of power.
After several skirmishes in May, Hamas launched the four day assault in Gaza, during which dozens were killed and hundreds wounded. Mahmoud Abbas announced the disillusionment of the NUG, and they then became two separate Palestinian Authorities – one in the West Bank, ruled by the Fatah, and one in Gaza, ruled by Hamas. Both sides have been accused of committing war crimes during this period, and over the next two years fighting continued in isolated cases.
In response to the take over, Israel and Egypt, along with the U.S. led west, imposed a siege on Gaza, preventing import, export, and travel to and from the Strip, whilst funding development projects in the Fatah-ruled West Bank. Salam Fayyad was appointed Prime Minister with heavy US-backing, but his appointment was opposed by Hamas, who consider him to be a U.S. lackey.
Over the last several weeks, following the Fatah party’s submission for Palestinian membership into the United Nations, negotiations have been taking place in Egypt between the Fatah and Hamas parties to try to establish the basis for a national unity government if the statehood bid were to fail.
On Friday, the UN Security Council announced that they had failed to reach an agreement on Palestinian admission to the United Nations, leading the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority to turn toward their ‘Plan B’: a national unity government with Hamas. The unity government would in all likelihood be shunned by the U.S. and Israel, who consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization due to the group’s previous tactic of, and continuous support of the targeting of civilians.
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that he would support a unity government, even if he were excluded from its leadership. He told reporters on Tuesday, “I call upon the factions to find a new prime minister, and stop claiming that I’m the obstacle, because I was never an obstacle and will never be.”