Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Government with no unity to regulate the cut-off?

The Palestinians announced yesterday their "unity government" between Gaza and Ramallah but facts on the ground reveal that unity is far away and it looks now more as regulating the split that a movement towards uniting Gaza and the West Bank again. The two leaders of the leading movements Abu Mazen on the one hand, and Ismail Haniyya on the other gave contradicting statements about all issues and what is more important Haniyya, the Hamas Prime Minister, did not announce his resignation, but declared "leaving the rule" while keeping the administration in place and especially the "Qassam Army". That's to say that the Hamas government is leaving intact to the shadow letting the Ramallah government to appear in the front.
Why they do it? Because of the fiscal plight- they are not able to pay the salaries- including to the "Qassam Army" as a result of the regional upheaval- Iran is shifting all its resources to Syria on the expense of Gaza and Saudi Arabia enforced Qatar to stop all aid to Moslem Brothers in the region—including Hamas. Add to it the successful campaign on the part of Egypt against the tunnels that chocked the Hamas economy.
So, the unity experiment totally relies now on the economic success of the unity government. Haniyya, in his address yesterday, was very clear to say that the government will be tested in "removing the siege over Gaza". He did not mean Israel as the crossing points with Israel are open—but Egypt that is blockading Gaza from the south. Regulating Rafah crossing is the supreme test of the unity government. Also Qatar must provide steady financial aid to the gigantic united Palestinian bureaucracy of around 80,000 clerks.
Qatari endorsement will come on the expense of Saudi and Gulf sympathy as the PA will become a part of the pro Qatari-Turkish axis of Moslem Brothers that may affect Egyptian readiness to regulate Rafah crossing.
Hamas "shadow government" in Gaza gives it now the characteristics of Hizbullah model in Lebanon, but with crucial difference. While in Lebanon the Hizbullah "state within state" model relied on the supremacy of neighboring Syria over Lebanese politics- in the case of the Palestinian Authority all three neighbors- Israel, Jordan and Egypt are alarmed from this model and will try to abort it. Israel is the most outspoken in this regard, but one can assume that also Jordan and Egypt are concerned.
It is interesting to watch to what degree Egypt will be cooperative with regulating the Rafah crossing. The mood in Cairo now is of "annihilating" Moslem Brothers and Hamas is perceived as part of the terror ring of Moslem Brothers in Sinai and Egypt proper.
The presence of Ramallah's representatives in Rafah is prerequisite to enable the regulating the Rafah crossing- but this eventuality without Israeli consent will give the final stamp on the excluding of Gaza from the Paris Protocols that is based on "one tax envelop" between the Palestinian Authority and Israel and as a result will cut the Gaza and West Bank economies as long as Ramallah wants to stay in the NIS regime. As far as we can judge from the nature of the key persons in the government such as deputy Prime Minister, Muhammad Mustafa, they appreciate the economic bonds with Israel and will not be ready to sacrifice it.

Sum up- the unity government is government with no unity. The two systems stay in place and the Hamas government moved to the shadows. The supreme test will be economic- the regulating of Rafah crossing and steady salary payments from Qatar. In the meantime – the agreement actually is about regulating the split and not healing it.