Qurei makes consultations to form extended government; Hamas sets new conditions for truce
As the argument for who should head the the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) has ended in favor of Rafiq al Natsheh, the Palestinian public’s attention has now turned towards the formation of the new government. This has coincided with statements by Israeli officials about possible meetings between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Moreover, there are reports about renewed Hamas conditions for a possible second truce.
PLC member, Dalal Salameh, told Al Bawaba that the battle for the post of PLC speaker has been settled, and the most important issue going forward now will be regarding the state of emergency declared in the territories, which is due to end on November 6.
She added, “Fatah PLC members are now pushing at ending the state of emergency and the formation of an extended government capable of coping with the challenges ahead in light of the present circumstances.”
The Fatah legislator also expects the issue of the Ministry of Interior to resurface again soon, as Palestinian political sources have reiterated that PM Ahmad Qurei - also known as Abu Ala – is insisting that General Yousef Naser be put forward for the post, against the will of Arafat and the Fatah Central Committee.
As far as the structure of the new government is concerned, Salameh said, “the seven present ministers would retain their portfolios and Fatah will nominate two to three new ministers. Among the candidates are Fares Qaddourah, who was a prominent participant at the Aqaba Summit and contributor to what is described as the ‘Swiss Accord’, Hatem Abdel Qader, advocate of the Ayaloun-Nseibeh pact, as well as herself [Dalal Salameh].”
On another note, Fatah is demanding that ‘new and younger blood’ is introduced in the proposed government. According to sources, many of Palestinian figures who have participated in the preceding governments have not achieved any tangible results, and consequently their return is not logical as Qurei had announced that his upcoming government is a ‘reforming’ one.
Abu Ala is also demanding that some portfolios be kept vacant as they might be assumed later by representatives from the Palestinian factions - should these factions decide to join the new government. However, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) are not expected to join the new government.
“Our movement rejects the Oslo agreements, and therefore cannot be part of a government that has been born as a result of this [agreement],” said Adnan Asfour, a prominent Hamas leader.
Speaking to Al Bawaba about the possibility of a new truce, Asfour noted “contacts in this regard are being made…however a final decision has not yet been taken.”
He added, “Before talking about any truce or the halt of military operations against the occupation, the Israeli aggression should stop. Secondly, the new truce should be negotiated in a different way from the previous one.”
Meanwhile, the Hamas leader has denied any knowledge of talks between Hamas leader - Mousa Abu Marzouq - and Egyptian officials in Cairo, saying “my movement has no objection to having discussions with any Arab or Palestinian side that is offering to help in alleviating the suffering of our people and halting [Israeli] aggression against them.”
On another note, reports have indicated that there has been low-level communication between Palestinian and Israeli officials, which could lead to a follow-up meeting between the Israeli Prime Minister - Ariel Sharon - and Abu Ala, shortly after the latter announces his new government within the next few days.
However, Palestinian officials have cast doubts over Sharon’s intentions vis-à-vis the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians, with one official saying “the seriousness of such intentions can only be judged with his [Sharon’s] actions on the ground.”
Palestinian legislator - Abdel Fattah Hamayel - said, “up to this moment there is no dialogue between us and the Israelis. The reports have come from the Israeli side only, and we at the PA have only heard of them through the media. We wish that there is dialogue and a serious Israeli attitude [towards the resumption of talks]…the PA is ready for any dialogue with Israel.”
For its part, the Israeli Prime Minster’s office has announced that preparations were being made for a meeting between Sharon and Qurei. Meanwhile, the Israeli Defense Minister, Shaol Mofaz, has agreed to meet with a senior Palestinian official - who according to sources would most probably be Jibril al Rajoub, the Palestinian president’s security advisor. (Albawaba.com)