Haniyeh Sets out Govt. Policy

Setting out his new coalition government's program in parliament, Saturday, March 17, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said the new cabinet will give priority to the...

Haniyeh Sets out Govt. Policy
Setting out his new coalition government's program in parliament, Saturday, March 17, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said the new cabinet will give priority to the establishment of an independent Palestinian State in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.

"The government will work with the international community to put an end to the occupation and recover the legitimate rights of our people, foremost among them the creation of an independent state enjoying full sovereignty in the territories occupied in 1967," Haniya told MPs as he reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

He said that the new unity cabinet, which includes both his Hamas movement and Fatah faction of president Mahmud Abbas, would "respect the resolutions of international legitimacy and the agreements signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization."

It is one of the three Quartet conditions for ending the punishing aid boycott slapped on the Palestinian Authority after Hamas took power last year.

The Quartet of major players in the peace process — the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States — has been calling on the new government to "renounce violence" and recognize Israel and past peace deals for the flow of aid to resume.

Israel was quick to refused Saturday to have any contacts with the new Palestinian government.

"Israel will not recognise or work with this new government or with its members," government spokeswoman Miri Eisin told AFP.

"The new government continues along the clear line of the preceding one. Unfortunately, there is no recognition of Israel, there is no recognition of past accords with the Palestinian Authority."

The European Union and the United States have both given the unity cabinet a guarded welcome, adopting a wait-and-see approach. France and Russia have distanced themselves from the Quartet demands and indicated a greater willingness to work with the incoming Palestinian government.

Palestinian MPs gave near-unanimous approval to the broad-based cabinet, which Palestinians hope will usher in an era of calm and economic prosperity.

Eighty-seven of the 132 Palestinian Legislative Council's members gathered in Gaza and Ramallah in a video-linked session. Forty-one lawmakers, including 37 from Hamas, could not attend because they are in Israeli jails.

Israeli travel curbs prevented all the PLC members from meeting in a single venue.

According to the power sharing agreement between Hamas and Fatah, Hamas will take 12 of the 25 portfolios in the coalition cabinet, while the president's faction will take six.

Seven ministries, including the powerful finance, foreign affairs and interior posts, will go to independents and smaller factions.

Self-Defense

Haniya insisted on Palestinians' right to defend themselves in the face of Israeli aggressions.

"The government affirms that resistance in all its forms to the occupation is a legitimate right guaranteed by international resolutions. It is therefore the right of our people to defend itself in the face of continuing Israeli aggression," he said.

The premier added that his government would seek to "consolidate and broaden" a fragile truce with Israel in force in the Gaza Strip since November, but said it should be "comprehensive and reciprocal."

Abbas, on his part, called for a negotiated peace with Israel and a rejection of "all forms of violence."

"We reiterate that we reject all forms of violence and seek a settlement based on international legitimacy through negotiations that we are ready to resume to reach a just peace," Abbas told MPs.

Addressing the "Israeli government and people", he expressed readiness to "take the road of a just peace by resuming negotations" between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which he also heads.

"We extend our hand once more to reach a peace settlement that will give future generations a hope of peaceful coexistence and put an end to the suffering and the cycle of violence."

The Palestinian leader rejected Israeli calls for modifications to an Arab peace initiative that envisages full normalisation of relations with Israel in return for its withdrawal from all occupied Arab land and the creation of an independent, viable Palestinian state.

He slammed continuing Israeli settlement expansion, the construction of the controversial separation barrier in the West Bank and the "isolation of Jerusalem."

Prisoners Swap

Haniyeh further vowed his government would work toward the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in return for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

"The government will work, and encourage the parties concerned to work, to speed up the resolution of the problem of the captive Israeli soldier within the framework of a prisoner exchange agreement," Haniya told MPs.

The military wing of Hamas was one of three organizations that claimed responsibility for taking prisoner Corporal Gilad Shalit in a daring cross-border raid from Gaza on June 25.

Haniyeh also called on the West anew to end a crippling aid freeze.

"We are expecting them to take concrete measures to lift the embargo imposed on our people and to put pressure on the (Israeli) occupation authorities to do the same," Haniya told MPs.

He appealed by name to China, the European Union, Japan, Latin American countries and Russia.

He also urged the US administration to "review its position on the Palestinian cause" and respect the "choice of the Palestinian people embodied in the (new) national unity government."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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