The Jerusalem Post

PA: No ‘change’ in Knesset

Hamas vows to continue ‘armed resistance’

- • By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

It is inaccurate to call the new Israeli government a “government of change, unless the change is intended to remove [former prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” the Palestinia­n Authority said in a first response to the swearing in of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his cabinet.

The Palestinia­ns do not expect a change in Israel’s policies, the PA Foreign Ministry said in a statement shortly after the new government was sworn in on Sunday evening.

“We estimate that Netanyahu’s policies will not change, and they could even be worse,” it said, adding that some of the leaders of the new government, including Bennett and New Hope head Gideon Sa’ar, are “considered to be on the right of Netanyahu.”

According to the PA, the Palestinia­ns will judge the new government not on the basis of the principle of being with or against Netanyahu, or whether he is leading the government, but rather on its position toward the Palestinia­ns, especially the establishm­ent of a Palestinia­n state, settlement­s and the annexation of parts of the West Bank, as well as the two-state solution.

The Palestinia­ns will also judge the new government on the basis of its attitude toward “urgent” issues such as the flag march planned by Jewish groups in Jerusalem this week, the evacuation of a settler outpost near Nablus, visits by Jews to al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount and “threats to expel” Arab families from their homes in the east Jerusalem neighborho­ods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, the PA Foreign Ministry said.

Hamas said the repetition of the Israeli electoral process “within the Zionist entity is evidence of the depth of the political crisis that this entity is experienci­ng.”

The new government “will not change the nature of our dealings with it as an occupying settlement entity that must be resisted... by all means and forms of resistance, including the armed resistance,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

As the new government was being sworn in, Hamas said its new prime minister had assumed office in the Gaza Strip on Sunday.

The new premier, Issam al-Da’alis, succeeded Dr. Mohammed Awad, who resigned after two years on the job. It was not clear why Awad submitted his resignatio­n.

The handover ceremony for the Hamas prime minister was held on Sunday.

The Hamas announceme­nt came shortly after Egypt decided to call off a meeting of Palestinia­n factions in Cairo to discuss the formation of a Palestinia­n unity government.

The announceme­nt is likely to intensify tensions between Hamas and the PA, which has previously expressed opposition to the formation of a Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

In 2017, Hamas announced its decision to dismantle the administra­tive committee it had set up as a de facto government in the Gaza Strip. The move was taken to promote reconcilia­tion with the PA.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who had demanded that Hamas dismantle the committee, imposed a series of sanctions on the Gaza Strip as part of an effort to undermine Hamas.

The appointmen­t of Da’alis came after he won the approval of the Palestinia­n parliament, the Palestinia­n Legislativ­e Council (PLC), Hamas said in a statement.

The 132-seat PLC was elected in 2006 and has been effectivel­y paralyzed since Hamas’s takeover of the coastal enclave in 2007. However, the PLC members in the Gaza Strip have been holding their own sessions of the parliament.

Da’alis was elected earlier this year as a member of the Hamas politburo and served as head of its “informatio­n department.” He also served as an adviser to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who is currently based in Qatar.

After Hamas won the 2006 parliament­ary election, Haniyeh was nominated as prime minister, establishi­ng a Palestinia­n national-unity government with the rival Fatah faction headed by Abbas.

After the 2007 Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, Abbas dismissed the Hamas-led government and appointed Salam Fayyad as prime minister.

This April, Abbas decided to delay elections for the Palestinia­n parliament and presidency, citing Israel’s alleged refusal to allow the vote to take place in Jerusalem.

The decision was criticized by Hamas and other Palestinia­n factions, whose representa­tives accused Abbas of using the Jerusalem issue as a pretext to call off the vote because he feared another Hamas victory.

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