The Islamic Hamas movement said yesterday it was ready to work with the Palestinian Authority over Israel s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip starting next month. But declined to say whether it would participate in a national unity Cabinet as proposed by the mainstream Fatah faction of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The idea of creating a national, all-encompassing entity to manage the withdrawal and supervise the legislative elections is, in principal, a good idea, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP. We are in favor of the creation of an entity regrouping all the representatives of all the Palestinian forces but that does not have to be done through a government, he said, adding: The idea of communal action is good but there are differences over the way to do it.
The Fatah Central Committee, which met in Amman on Thursday, called on the different Palestinian groups to participate in a government of national unity ahead of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which is due to start in six weeks.
The central committee has decided to call on the different Palestinian movements to take part in a government of national union, taking into account the difficult circumstances which necessitate the unity of our people before the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza strip, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei told AFP.
However, Khaled Al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader, ruled out the movement participating in a national unity Cabinet. The Fatah Central Committee s appeal for the creation of a national unity cabinet can be discussed by movements who want to participate in it, he told AFP. We in Islamic Jihad will not participate in any way in such a government as long as the Israeli occupation continues, he added.
Israel yesterday lifted its blockade of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip after security forces stormed an abandoned hotel commandeered by ultranationalists opposed to the pullout from the territory. But Israel, which is planning to pull out all soldiers and settlers from Gaza in a controversial operation starting in August, warned it would not hesitate to seal off the settlements again to prevent trouble. "The closure of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip was lifted this morning, but it is forbidden to bring in material that might be used to thwart or prevent the application of the disengagement plan," an army spokesman said.
The closure was imposed on Thursday for the first time since Israel seized the territory in 1967, shortly before 1,000 riot police stormed a dilapidated beachfront complex where 150 extremists were holed up. The activists, most of whom were youngsters and not residents of Gaza, were bussed out and unceremoniously dumped on the Israeli side of the border.
Source: Agence France Presse