Challenges before Mecca agreement

Just several days after the signing of the Mecca agreement, signs of crisis between Fatah and Hamas over the formation of new unity government began to loom.

Challenges before Mecca agreement

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas canceled a speech scheduled for Thursday in which he was expected to officially assign Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to form the new national unity government. Abbas made the decision after Hamas presented three conditions for Haniyeh's resignation from his post

Sources close to the Hamas movement said that Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is delaying the resignation of his current government until President Mahmoud Abbas agrees on 3 preconditions: to approve a series of appointments made by the Hamas government over the past year and to rescind his decision to outlaw Hamas' "Executive Force", agree in advance on the Hamas candidate for the interior ministry, to consider Ziad Abu Amr, the proposed minister of foreign affairs, as an independent figure chosen by Fatah, not by Hamas so as to not dip into Hamas' cabinet quota.

Hamas officials claimed the delay was due to technical problems, but Fatah representatives said it was because Hamas introduced conditions which contradicted the Mecca agreement.

The appointment of deputy Prime Minister seems also an obstacle in the formation of new unity government. On Tuesday a Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip, Maher Mikdad, said that Abbas wanted to appoint Mohammed Dahlan as Deputy Prime Minister. Although the agreement reserves the deputy PM post for someone from Fatah as said Mikdad, a member of Fatah delegation to Mecca meeting- but the agreement also states that Hamas must approve the appointment.

Hamas considers Dahlan, who is Abbas' security advisor and a Fatah member of the Palestinian legislative council, as enemy. Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip told the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the movement was strongly opposed to the expected appointment of Fatah legislator Muhammad Dahlan as Deputy Prime Minister.

"Over our dead bodies," said a senior Hamas official when asked about the possibility that Dahlan would be appointed. "This man has been involved in the American-backed plot to topple our government. We want a Deputy Prime Minister from the West Bank."

Nabil Abu Rudainah, Abbas' advisor, described the preconditions in a press conference on Wednesday as "unacceptable means of blackmail, since the Mecca agreement was very clear and so any pre-conditioning will be understood as trying to evade the national responsibilities imposed on the parties which signed that agreement."

"Minor obstacles" which will be solved in a meeting between Abbas and Haniyeh, or "blackmail" from the part of Hamas, this shows how the agreement itself is fragile.  A unity government has not yet been formed and the path to its formation is filled with obstacles, such as arguments over the appointments to central ministries, especially Interior.  What will happen, for example, if none of Hamas' nominees is acceptable for Abbas

Implementing changes in the PLO is also likely to encounter many difficulties due to the unwillingness of current members to give up positions of power and hand Hamas a springboard from which it could take over the PLO, as well.   What will happen when the issue of "armed struggle" against Israel is discussed? What will happen when the parties discuss the issue of "resistance weapon" in the hands of Palestinian military wings? Will Hamas give Abbas enough room to claim that he has a mandate to pursue a political process with Israel?  What will be Hamas' role be in managing the peace process and will it be able to torpedo any political moves?

Moreover, the situation on the ground is highly inflammable and uncontrolled developments could well undermine the entire agreement.  Finally, even if the agreement is implemented, the new government may not function because of internal divisions among its constituent elements; if it subsequently falls apart, any understanding about future elections would be put to a severe test. 

-- Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied West Bank. He can be reached at [email protected]

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16