Gaza City, March 19, 2007 – Palestinians have installed a new, more moderate coalition government hoping to persuade the international community to end its isolation of the Palestinian Authority and lift a year of bruising sanctions.
Israel promptly announced it would not deal with the coalition, because governing partners Hamas and Fatah stopped short of explicitly recognising the Jewish state or renouncing violence, as the international community has demanded.
But the new alliance installed on Saturday, which replaced the militantly anti-Israel government led by the Islamist Hamas, appeared to implicitly recognise Israel by calling for a Palestinian state on lands the Israelis captured in 1967.
Norway immediately recognised the new coalition and announced it would lift sanctions. Britain and the U.N. signalled flexibility — suggesting money could start flowing again if the coalition keeps anti-Israel activities in check.
The Hamas-Fatah merger, however, is in danger of crumbling quickly over ideological differences, and long-standing enmities between the two factions and their legions of gunmen.
Palestinian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly — 83 to 3 — to approve the Government, then leapt to their feet in a standing ovation after the result was announced. Forty-one of the legislature’s 132 members, most of them members of Hamas, are held in Israeli jails and were not able to vote.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah swore in the new 25-member Cabinet shortly after the Parliament session. Meanwhile, the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday voted overwhelmingly to uphold the country’s boycott of the new Palestinian government.