Israel will blame Abbas for any Hamas violence

Jewish state warns Palestinian leader and deems new unity government  a ‘leap backward’


Israel warned the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, on Friday that he would be held responsible for any violence by Hamas once the new national unity government, formed with the backing of the militant Islamic group, was finalised, as is expected in the coming days.

“It is a very negative move and a great leap backward,” said a senior Israeli official. He added that once the government was formed, and if rockets from Hamas-controlled Gaza were launched into Israel, “Abbas will not be able to say any more that he is not responsible. Israel will have every right to hold him responsible”. The official stressed that even though the new government will be comprised of technocrats, with no Hamas members, Israel will not deal with it because it was formed with the backing of Hamas – which advocates the destruction of the Israeli state.

Israeli soldiers apprehended a man wearing a suicide bomb vest at a checkpoint in Nablus on Friday, but there was no suggestion that he was connected to Hamas.

In spite of Israel’s warning, Mr Abbas’s chosen course now seems irreversible: to end the seven-year split in Palestinian politics in a fashion that gives him a historic achievement. And Hamas, out of weakness, seems willing for the government to be mostly on Mr Abbas’s terms for now. It has lost Egypt as its main ally, faces Egyptian blockage of smuggling tunnels, and does not even have the money to pay its government employees.

Mr Abbas has asked Rami Hamdallah, a member of his Fatah faction, to lead the unity government. It also includes other holdover ministers, giving it a continuity designed to please the Western donors upon which the Palestinian Authority (PA) depends.

Mr Hamdallah said on Wednesday that the new government would uphold the policies of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, such as existing peace agreements. Whether the cabinet will issue a more explicit affirmation of this and the shunning of violence was unclear yesterday. Palestinian analysts predicted it would do this to please the international community, while Abdullah Abdullah, the deputy commissioner on foreign relations for Fatah, said there was no need for an explicit declaration.

While the EU is set to continue funding the new government, the American position is uncertain because US law prohibits giving aid to a government influenced by a terrorist organisation and Hamas was involved in choosing the cabinet ministers. The Obama administration may want to continue support, with officials talking about a “wait and see approach”, but it will have to gain congressional backing.

Crucial questions remain. Hamas and the PA will maintain separate security forces, and Hamas’s Izzedin al-Qassam militia in Gaza will be left intact. And the two are still far apart on how to deal with Israel. While Mr Abbas called this week for renewed talks with Israel on condition that it releases prisoners and freezes settlement building, the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said unity would strengthen the Palestinians in mounting resistance against Israel.

For Mr Abbas, who was elected eight years ago, the unity government will give him renewed legitimacy. “He can say I united the Palestinians, a historic achievement,” said Hani Masri, of the Masarat think tank in Ramallah. “It’s not exactly accurate, since the separation remains even after the government is formed. Still, this has a greater chance in lasting longer than previous unity efforts.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture