Israel Resource Review 15th March, 2007


Published in "Al-Ayyam" , an official Palestinian Authority publication, March 15th, 2007

The Palestinian unity government was born after tedious efforts from the loyal and tireless children of the homeland who worked day and night to reach an agreeable vision and joint denominators to bring the Palestinian entirety under one umbrella.

This government is the fruit of the positive spirit and mutual trust that led to resolving all of the issues and on all levels. It is the most significant outcome of the Mecca agreement under the patronage of King Abdullah. The unity government came to crown a long series of Palestinian dialogues that Egypt and Syria played a significant role in hosting and supporting and with appreciated efforts from sister Arab countries and Arab and Islamic organizations. This government expresses loyalty to the path of the martyrs and the pains of the prisoners and the wounded most importantly, the great martyrs: the late President Yasser Arafat, Sheik Ahmad Yassin, leader Abu Ali Mustafa, leader Fathi Shikaki and leader Abul-Abbas.

Building on the national agreement document and the assignment letter, the national unity government shall work on all levels to achieve the highest interests of the Palestinian people and in the following form:

First - political arena:

1) The government reaffirms that the key to security and stability in the region relies on ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and recognizing the Palestinian people's self-determination. The government shall work with the international community to end the occupation and regain the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people so as to be able to build a strong and cohesive foundation for peace, security and prosperity in the region.

2) The government is committed to the protection of the highest national interests of the Palestinian people, and the protection of their rights and the preservation and development of their gains and the achievement of their national goals as stated by the national councils, the Basic Law, national agreement document and the resolutions of the Arab summits and hence, the government respects the resolutions of the international legitimacy and the agreements signed by the PLO.

3) The government is committed to rejecting the so-called state with temporary borders because it is based on impairing the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

4) Adhering to the right of the Palestinian refugees and their right to return to their land and properties.

5) Working tirelessly to free the heroic prisoners in the prisons of the Israeli occupation.

6) Confronting the occupation's actions of assassinations, arrests and incursions. The government shall pay special attention to Jerusalem in order to confront the Israeli policies regarding Jerusalem, the land, the people and the holy shrines.

7) Strengthening relations with the Arab and Islamic countries and openness and cooperation with the regional and international arenas on the basis of mutual respect.

Second - the occupation

1) The government reaffirms that peace and stability are subject to ending all forms of occupation of the Palestinian territories, removal of the apartheid wall and the settlements, end of Judaization of Jerusalem and the policy of annexation and returning rights to their owners. 2) The government reaffirms that resistance is a legitimate right for the Palestinian people and was guaranteed by all the international conventions. [The government reaffirms] the right of our people to defend themselves from any Israeli aggression and believes that stopping the resistance is contingent upon ending the occupation and achieving freedom, return and independence. 3) Nevertheless, the government - through national agreement - shall work on strengthening and widening the truce to make it comprehensive and mutual in exchange for Israel's commitment to stop its occupation's procedures on the ground, viz, the assassinations, arrests, incursions, home demolition, land bulldozing, digging in Jerusalem and [Israel's commitment] to the removal of the roadblocks and reopening the border crossings, lifting the restrictions on movement and releasing of the prisoners. 4) The government reaffirms the article in the national agreement document that managing the negotiations is within the jurisdiction of the PLO and the president of the Palestinian National Authority on the basis of adhering to the Palestinian national goals and their achievement. Any final agreement must be presented to the new Palestinian National Council to be ratified or a general referendum should be held among the Palestinian people at home and in exile by means of a law to organize it.

5) The government shall support the efforts and shall encourage the concerned parties to expedite ending the issue of the Israeli prisoner soldier in the framework of an honorable prisoners' exchange.

Third - security level

The national unity government realizes the difficulty of the internal security conditions and believes that one of its most important priorities in the upcoming phase is to keep law and order and so as to achieve that, the government shall implement the following steps:

1) Form a higher national security council that shall be a resource for all the security organizations and the framework that organizes their function and specifies their policies. [The government] shall request of the PLC to pass a law relating to this council.

2) Structure the security organizations and build them on a professional basis and work to provide their needs and reduce factional influence and protect them from political conflicts and affiliations and strengthen their loyalty to the homeland first and foremost. [These organizations] must commit to the implementation of the decisions of their political commanders whoever they are and reassure the commitment of the employees of the security establishment to carry out their assigned tasks.

3) Work on reviving the laws relating to the security establishment that were passed by the PLC.

4) Create a comprehensive security plan to end all forms of chaos, anarchy, and aggression and to protect [the people's] lives, honor, monies and the personal and public property. [The plan shall] control arms and provide security for the citizens and end the wrongs committed against them by means of keeping order and supporting the police to fulfill their duty in the best form.

Fourth - legal level

1) The government, in cooperation with the judicial authority, shall work on reforming, reactivating and protecting the judicial system in all its institutions in order to allow it to carry out its duties in the framework of establishing justice and combating corruption and committing to the rule of law and its implementation in a transparent and honest manner by everyone without the interference of any side.

2) The government reaffirms working in accordance with the Basic Law that organizes the relations between the three authorities on the basis of separation of powers and respect for the authorities given to the presidency and the government according to the law.

3) The government shall assist the president in fulfilling his different tasks and shall fully cooperate with the PA presidency and the constitutional institutions and shall work with the PLC and the judicial authority so as to develop the Palestinian political system, and on the basis of a sole unified and strong national authority.

Fifth - Palestinian values

1) The eleventh government shall be committed to strengthening national unity, protecting domestic peace and establishing the values of mutual respect and the language of dialogue and ending all forms of tension and stagnation and establishing the culture of tolerance and protecting Palestinian blood and forbidding internal fighting.

2) The government reaffirms the unity of the Palestinian people in the homeland and in exile and the government shall reassure the involvement of the Palestinian diaspora in everything relating to our Palestinian affairs.

3) The government shall work on strengthening national agreement and achieving a comprehensive national reconciliation by means of forming a higher national committee under the patronage of the presidency and the government. [This committee] shall consist of the PLC, the factions, dignitaries, legal experts and scholars. The goal of this committee shall be to end the blood feuds between the families and estimate the damage that afflicted the properties and organizations and to work on solving them.

4) The government shall strengthen the principle of citizenship through equality in rights and duties, equal opportunity, social justice in employment in the different ministries and institutions and ending all forms of political favoritism in the civic and military employment.

5) The government reaffirms that it respects the principle of political pluralism, protection of public freedoms, strengthening of the values of democracy, protection of human rights, the principle of justice, equality, protection of the freedom of the press and of expression. [The government] is committed to the peaceful transfer of power and to complete the municipal elections within the coming six months.

6) The government is committed to providing decent living standards for the Palestinian citizens and the provision of social welfare and medical services in addition to improving these services, the hospitals and public clinics. [The government] is committed to solving the phenomenon of poverty and unemployment by means of providing job opportunities, development projects and social welfare programs. The government shall give special attention to higher education and shall encourage and provide for the needs of scientific research.

7) The government shall give attention to the sectors of workers, farmers, fishermen and youth. [The government] shall also give attention to women in order to enable them to achieve the status that is appropriate for their great sacrifices and guarantees their participation in decision-making and in building all the institution and ministries in all fields.

Sixth - The economic situation

1) The government shall work on lifting the siege that is imposed on our Palestinian people through relations and the revival of the regional and international committees to reduce the suffering of our Palestinian people.

2) Give priority to developing national economy and encourage the economic and trade sectors with the Arab and Islamic worlds and encourage economic and trade relations with the European Union and the rest of the world countries.

3) Protection of the consumers and encouragement for the private sector and providing the appropriate climate for it. Establishing healthy ground rules for relations between the government and its official institutions and the organizations of the private sector and ending monopolies. The government shall provide the appropriate environment, protection and stability for investments.

4) The government shall respect the principles of a free economy in a way that suits our values and norms in a manner that serves Palestinian development, protects the private sector, encourages investments, fights unemployment and poverty, strengthens the productive economic sectors, rebuilds the infrastructure and develops the industrial zones, housing and technology sectors.

Seventh - Reform

1) The government that adopts the strategy of reform reaffirms to your honorable council (PLC) and to our people that gave us the precious confidence that we shall be loyal to this confidence so that the citizen shall feel this in the work of the government. There shall be real achievements on the ground in the arena of administrative and financial reform and in the cooperation with the PLC in passing laws that would support reform and fight corruption and monitor the work and structures to guarantee the proper work of the ministries and their adherence to the law.

2) The government shall respond to the urgent needs of the citizens on all levels by means of planning and initiatives and specifying and rationalizing spending priorities and in launching initiatives and creativity and keeping a high degree of credibility and transparency.

3) In the matter of reform, the government shall fight corruption and promote the values of honesty, transparency and stop the misuse of public funds. We shall give the issue of administrative development a social dimension and a societal culture in order to establish a new conception and formulate a society-wide Palestinian strategy for administrative development and lead to a healthy work mechanism that is based on the concepts of modern administration to help in implementing this strategy according to the needs of the Palestinian society.

Eighth - International relations

At the time that the government is reaffirming its Arab and Islamic home front, it shall work on building healthy and strong relations with the different world states and with the international organizations, including the UN Security Council, the regional and international organizations to aid in strengthening global peace and stability. The European Union has provided much financial assistance to our Palestinian people and supported their right to freedom and independence and held serious positions in criticizing the policies of the Israeli occupation.

Therefore, we are interested in a strong relationship with the European Union since we expect it to play a role beyond pressuring the occupation authorities to respect human rights as stated in international conventions, to compel [these authorities] to pull out their troops from the occupied Palestinian territories and end the constant aggressive practices against our people. The government shall also develop the relationship with the permanent members of the UN Security Council, especially Russia and China, in addition to Japan and the African and Asian countries so as to guarantee the just rights of our Palestinian people. At the same time, the government calls upon the American administration to reconsider its unfair positions towards the Palestinian cause and calls upon it to respect the choice of the Palestinian people that is the national unity government.

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Commentary: The Anticipated Winograd Report
Arlene Kushner

. . . Things are heating up here politically in anticipation of the interim report from the Winograd Commission (which is looking at our failures in the Lebanon war). Due in a matter of weeks, this report -- according to a Commission announcement -- will be publishing personal findings and not just a general over-view. It is anticipated that this will have an even more disastrous effect on Olmert's already disastrous standings, and there are those already saying that Olmert (as well as Peretz) will have to resign in the face of what will be revealed.

Binyamin Netanyahu is gearing up for this, and for prospects that the Kadima party will cave in the face of what's to come -- with those much-predicted defections by former Likud members of the party finally taking place.

But so is Tzipi Livni gearing up, anticipating that Olmert will resign and she will fill his place within a Kadima party that hangs together after Olmert's absence. There are those within Kadima, such as Meir Shitreet, who are rallying round with support for the party.

But Olmert has given no indication that he will resign -- certainly not after the interim report of the Commission. The final report is not due for some months yet. (It is not altogether clear to me how much that is leveled at personal responsibility will come with that first report and how much not until the end.)

And so we must adopt a wait-and-see attitude (whatever our personal hopes may be), as this plays itself out. A number of scenarios are possible: If the Kadima party hangs together, with Olmert absent, Livni or someone else indeed might take over. If the Kadima party, and thus the coalition, collapses, Netanyahu, as head of the opposition, would be provided with the opportunity to put together a new coalition (with 61 MKs). Failing this, there would be new elections.


Today in Gaza PA PM Ismail Haniyeh presented PA President Mahmoud Abbas with a list of agreed-upon ministers for the new unity government. It will be presented to the Palestinian Legislative Council for ratification on Saturday. The single greatest source of contention with regard to this new government -- who would serve as minister of the interior -- was resolved when it was mutually decided that Hani al-Qawasmi, an academic, apparently without close ties to either faction, would serve. The interior ministry has particular significance because it oversees the security services; my guess is that Hamas will ultimately control this.

A draft of the coalition platform, which has been posted on the Hamas and Fatah websites, calls for a continued truce (?) with Israel, and offers a vague pledge to "respect" former agreements. It also affirms the Palestinians' right to resist (resist being a code for employing terrorism) and affirms the "right of return." According to YNet, the platform says, "Resistance will only stop after right of return is implemented." In real terms, this means no possibility of peace.

As far as the Quartet benchmarks, it flunks on all three counts: recognizing Israel's right to exist, foreswearing terrorism, and making a commitment to abide by previous agreements.


The Israeli Foreign Ministry, calling this a victory for Hamas, says it will not deal with the new unity government. This is good news.

Most MKs (other than Yossi Beilin) seemed to endorse this position. MK Silvan Shalom (Likud), for example, stated that "the new Palestinian government is a wolf in sheep's clothing, intended to make it easier for the international community to 'swallow' Hamas. It's a subterfuge." And Zevulun Orlev (NU/NRP) said, "The platform of the Palestinian unity government reflects Palestinian unity about the continuation of terror attacks and the implementation of Hamas' platform for the destruction of Israel."

What is not clear is whether the boycott of the new government means not dealing with Abbas at all. My take is that it does not -- especially as Sec. of State Rice is coming to town soon to meet together with Olmert and Abbas. Refusing to participate would require considerably more backbone than Olmert has ever demonstrated.

Abbas, wearing multiple hats, claims that he can now deal with Israel as head of the PLO and not as president of the PA. What is being ignored here is that in Mecca Abbas agreed to incorporate Hamas into the PLO, so that PLO policies and ultimately ideology are likely to shift, becoming more overtly radical. And in any event, the schizoid situation of Abbas negotiating with us when he is president of a government we don't recognize cannot be successfully sustained.

MK Yisrael Katz (Likud) called upon Olmert to severe all ties with Abbas as the new unity government supports continued armed struggle against Israel.

MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu) sounded a similar note, but carried it further, calling on Zionist parties to form an emergency government in response to the new PA government positions. These positions represent "a declaration of war on the State of Israel. They want to wipe us out." And right he is. I fear that he is also right about his concern that Olmert will not deal with this situation with sufficient strength: "I am familiar with the prime minister's stand on this and his views are different from mine."

It should be noted that Lieberman speaks from inside the gov't coalition.


Can she be that dense?

Sec. of State Rice, speaking at a press conference with Foreign Minister Livni, made this statement with regard to the Saudi plan: "We think -- a very good thing that this initiative was put forward. We have to remember that it started as the Crown Prince initiative when Saudi now-King Abdullah put forward this idea. "And obviously, the Israelis would have their own ideas about how an Israeli-Arab reconciliation could take place. But I always think that it's a favorable matter when people are talking about resolution of longstanding conflicts."

Can she truly not have gotten it? That the Arabs are concerned with diminishing Israel and not with genuinely resolving conflict?

When asked about changes to the plan, Rice continued:

"Well, the Arab initiative is not a negotiating document. It is a document that sets forward a position. And as I said, I think very favorably about the idea that the Arab League starting as the Crown Prince initiative would, as a whole, set forward a position on which perhaps reconciliation could take place between Israel and the Arab states . . . " . . . I think it's a favorable thing that they are putting forward something, but it's -- again, it's not a negotiating position as I understand it, but rather a framework, a vision for how Israel and the Arabs might reconcile."

Well, she's right that this was not a negotiating document, but a position they have put forth -- a "take-it-or-leave-it" plan that is unacceptable to Israel, but leaves no opportunity for compromise. But why is this a good thing? It certainly is not a reasonable framework for reconciliation.

She's grasping at straws, is what she is doing. But if she is not that dense, what does this statement make her? Besides someone determined to play to the Saudis, that is. (You noticed this?)

See a quite fascinating commentary by Guy Bechor on this very issue:,7340,L-3377022,00.html


see my website

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