Israel will blame Abbas for any Hamas violence

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

Jerusalem

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
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral