Update as of 4:10 a.m. EDT: Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, has rejected what it termed a “one-sided change” in the unity government, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported Wednesday, citing Sami Abu Zuhri -- a spokesman for the group.
“No one told us anything about any decision to change and no one consulted with us about any change in the unity government. Fatah acted on its own in all regards,” Zuhri told AFP, reacting to earlier reports of an imminent dissolution of the Palestinian unity government formed last year.
The Palestinian unity government, formed in June 2014 after years of bad blood between Fatah and Hamas, is expected to tender its resignation within the next few days, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced late Tuesday, according to media reports. While the unity government theoretically has the power to govern over both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in practice, Hamas continues to be the sole governing body in Gaza.
Amin Maqbul, general secretary of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, said that the government would resign in the next 24 hours “because this one is weak and there is no chance that Hamas will allow it to work in Gaza,” Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported Tuesday.
Abbas is expected to direct Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah -- who currently heads the unity government -- to form a new national government comprising various Palestinian factions, Haaretz reported, citing Palestinian sources. However, it is not yet clear if Hamas would be among these factions.
The unity government was established after the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, which came seven years after the Palestinian Liberation Organization was kicked out of Gaza following Hamas’ victory in the 2006 elections. Since then, Hamas -- designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., Israel and most European nation -- has been the de facto governing body in the densely populated Palestinian enclave.
The inability of the unity government -- formed prior to last year’s 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip that killed over 2,200 Palestinians -- to exercise its authority in Gaza is believed to be one of the reasons for the slow pace of reconstruction work in the devastated region.