President Abbas seeks new government 'to further isolate Hamas'

President Abbas seeks new government 'to further isolate Hamas'
3 min read
28 January, 2019
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Monday offered to resign, his spokesperson said, amid efforts by President Mahmoud Abbas to form a new government.
83-year-old Abbas has been in power since 2005 and serves beyond his term limits [Getty]
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appears to be seeking a new government that will replace the current 'national unity government' to exclude and further isolate his rivals in Hamas.

Late on Sunday, the central committee of Abbas' Fatah movement recommended the formation of a new government that would comprise only members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). Hamas is not part of the PLO.

Current Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Monday offered to resign, his spokesperson said, amid the efforts of Abbas to form the new government.

Hamdallah has "put his government at the disposal of President Mahmoud Abbas", the prime minister's spokesperson Yussef al-Mahmoud said in a statement.

Hamdallah's West Bank-based government welcomed plans for a new government, Mahmoud said.

Such bids are seen as part of attempts by Abbas to further isolate his political rivals Hamas amid a deepening of a decade-long split in Palestinian politics.

The movement seized control of Gaza from Abbas' forces in a 2007 near civil war, a year after winning parliamentary elections.

Since the PA have maintained limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, but the split between the two has remained.

In June 2014, Hamdallah formed what was labelled a national unity government after a landmark reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas.

The deal has since broken down and the government has no control in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Abbas, whose Fatah is based in the occupied West Bank, has sought to pressure Hamas in recent months by reducing salaries in the Gaza Strip, which is under an Israeli blockade, among other moves.

Abbas was elected in 2005 for an initial four-year term but no elections have been held since then due to the Fatah-Hamas split.

Abbas in December said he would dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council, a move seen as intended to weaken Hamas which holds a majority of the seats in the council.

Hamas
 denounced Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' plan to dissolve the largely defunct Palestinian parliament that it controls, calling it a move to "serve his partisan interests".

Though the parliament has not met since 2007, when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian law allows for its speaker to act as interim president should 83-year-old Abbas die in office.

Dissolving the parliament would allow Abbas to further pressure Hamas.

Hamas won the last Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 in a landslide, resulting in an electoral dispute with Fatah. The split between the two factions persists and has defied several reconciliation attempts. A range of issues have kept the two sides apart, including Hamas' refusal to disarm its military wing.

Abbas, whose Fatah is based in the occupied West Bank, has sought to pressure Hamas in recent months by reducing salaries in the Gaza Strip, which is under an Israeli blockade, among other moves.