Isolating the Gaza Strip

Monday June 18, 2007 14:34 – By John Smith / IMEMC

In the chaos surrounding events in the Gaza Strip and the political manoeuvring witnessed since, the future of the region and of the two-state solution remains unclear.

Following five days of infighting that left approximately 120 Palestinians dead and established the complete control of Hamas over Gaza, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared a state of emergency, dissolved the national unity government, dismissed Ismail Haniyeh from his position as Prime Minister and set about forming a new administration.
Abbas’s new government, headed by former Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, comprises of 13 posts. Of these posts, none are occupied by Hamas members, while the crucial position of Minister of the Interior is headed by the Fatah loyalist Abdul-Raziq Al Yahia.

The new government was quick to declare security in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip as its main priority with Fayyad stating, “there is a total breakdown here […] particularly in the security sphere.

”While Fatah exerts total control over the West Bank, how the movement intends to establish its presence and security in the Gaza Strip remains to be seen. Nevertheless, in accordance with basic Palestinian law, this new administration is mandated to govern for a maximum of 30 days, after which its continued survival is dependent upon securing the approval of two-thirds of the Palestinian parliament.

From the moment of its inception, this interim government is beset by problems on all sides. Not only does it have neither a presence nor any control in the Gaza Strip, but it will almost certainly be unable to secure two-thirds of the support of a Hamas-dominated parliament.

Hamas, for its part, has been quick to reject the Fayyad-led administration as illegitimate and illegal with Sami Abu Zuhri, spokesperson for the Hamas movement, announcing that Abbas had no “legitimate right to dissolve the government,” adding that such a move represented “a conspiracy against the Palestinian people and their elected representatives.

”Amidst such criticisms, dismissed PM Ismail Haniyeh has vowed to continue to govern as before, arguing that Abbas’s decisions are in direct violation of the choice of the Palestinian people, who overwhelmingly elected Hamas in the legislative elections.


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