The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister told reporters that the Israeli government is considering cutting off the Gaza Strip’s meager supply of electricity and water if the Palestinian Authority manages to form a unity government.The two main Palestinian political parties, Hamas and Fateh, have been meeting in Cairo in recent weeks to try to work out a plan for a unity government until elections are held in the Palestinian Territories this spring. Israeli authorities have condemned the effort, claiming that the Hamas party is a terrorist entity, and any government including the Hamas party would be a ‘terrorist government’.

In 2006, after the Hamas party won the Palestinian legislative elections and control of the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government attempted to use the rival Fateh party to instigate a coup against the elected government. The coup failed in Gaza, but succeeded in the West Bank, where the Fateh party took power in 2007.

According to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahranoth, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told reporters, ‘The foreign ministry is examining the possibility of Israel pulling out of the Gaza Strip in terms of infrastructure’, adding that any unity government would be considered a terrorist entity.

The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, imposed in 2007, has been condemned by the United Nations and international human rights organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, as a form of collective punishment and a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Despite recent easing of certain restrictions, Palestinians in Gaza still lack basic foodstuffs and medicine, and have for the last four years lived on rationed electricity of eight hours a day, with rolling blackouts for the remaining 16 hours each day.

In addition to cutting off electricity and water, the Israeli government has promised to seize Palestinian tax money and hold it in Israeli banks if a unity government were to be formed.