After Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, Abu Mazen dissolved the Palestinian national unity government and established an emergency Fatah-affiliated government.



Swearing in the new Palestinian government (Al-Jazeera TV, June 17).

The situation on the ground

1. On June 15, 2007 , with the capture of the security square compound in western Gaza City , Hamas forces completed their takeover of the Gaza Strip . The security square was the location of Abu Mazen’s main centers of power: the presidential office compound, and the headquarters of the security forces, institutions and symbols of Palestinian Authority rule (including the houses of Yasser Arafat and Abu Mazen). The headquarters of the security services and other symbols of the PA were vandalized and looted by Hamas operatives and local residents. Samih al-Madhoun, commander of the Fatah/ Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in the Gaza Strip, was captured near the Palestinian Preventive Security building and lynched while the media covered the event.

2. On June 16, Hamas operatives vandalized and looted Yasser Arafat’s house , which had been closed since he moved to the Muqataa in Ramallah in 2001. The vandalizing of Arafat’s house, which was supposed to be turned into a national museum, destroyed an important Fatah-PA symbol in the Gaza Strip . Muhammad Dahlan’s house, another symbolic site, was vandalized as well. Palestinian national television (The Voice of Palestine) stopped broadcasting from the Gaza Strip and now only broadcasts from Ramallah.


Defiling symbols of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority:
Hamas operatives with their feet on a picture of Abu Mazen
(Ibrahim Abu Mustafa for Reuters, June 15).

Hamas attempts to stabilize the situation in the Gaza Strip

3. Over the past weekend there was a significant reduction in the extent of violent incidents in the Gaza Strip and life gradually returned to normal. According to Palestinian media reports, at least 130 people died in the latest round of confrontations and several hundred were wounded. Some of the Fatah members who were caught were executed. Ten senior members of Fatah and the security forces who were detained by Hamas were pardoned and released.

4. After the battles, Hamas deployed its forces throughout the Gaza Strip and is now trying to stabilize the situation. Hamas gives special importance to police support . Ismail Haniya held a meeting with senior police officers, deciding that police would patrol the Gaza Strip and help in getting life back to normal. An interior ministry spokesman called upon policemen to return to duty on June 16. Abu Mazen, however, issued an order forbidding the police to collaborate with Hamas. At this stage it is uncertain whether and to what extent the Palestinian police will work with Hamas.

5. At the same time, Hamas is trying to enforce its authority and even to enlist Fatah and security forces personnel into its ranks, after they were defeated in battle:

A. Khaled Abu Hilal , an interior ministry spokesman, announced to a press conference �the rebirth of Fatah, after the establishment of an interim committee that will [re]organize Fatah�� (Al-Aqsa TV, June 14). He also announced the creation of a high police council in the Gaza Strip which would be headed by brigadier general Jabr and his deputy, colonel Maher al-Rumayly (Al-Aqsa TV, June 16), to use police to operate in the Gaza Strip.

B. Islam Shahwan , a Hamas Executive Force spokesman, called upon the �fair and decent members� of the security forces to join the Executive Force (Hamas Website, June 15).

The crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel and Egypt

6. So far Hamas has refrained from taking control of the Erez and Karni Crossings. Its operatives are stationed around the outer perimeter of the Gaza side of the crossings and supervise movement to them. There are no police or security force personnel at the crossings.

7. Fatah activists and members of the security forces, as well as civilians, all fleeing the threat of Hamas, arrived at the Erez Crossing and asked to reach Judea and Samaria . So far Israel has permitted the crossing of about 170 individuals. About 200 others fled to Egypt .


Armed Hamas operative in an X-ray machine at the
Rafah Crossing (Ibrahim Abu Mustafa for Reuters, June 15)

8. The Rafah Crossing is still closed, having been taken over by Hamas forces. Hamas also controls the route along the border with Egypt (the Philadelphi route). Abu Atiya , a member of Hamas’ terrorist-operational wing, said that Hamas had taken over the posts around the Rafah Crossing. He said that the crossing would �continue to operate in the same way with the same system� to ensure the movement of travelers. He also noted that Hamas intended to appeal to Egypt to open the crossing (Al-Aqsa TV, June 15).

The situation in Judea and Samaria

9. In Judea and Samaria Fatah continues its operations against Hamas, including the following:

A. There have been widespread abductions and detentions of Hamas operatives of various ranks in West Bank cities (most of whom were released after a short time).

B. Hamas operatives have been killed in Nablus in retaliation for the murder of Samih Madhoun, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades commander in the Gaza Strip.

C. Hamas institutions, businesses, �charitable society� offices and buildings belonging to the Hamas civilian infrastructure have been torched.

D. Hamas-affiliated political institutions have been taken over (the Palestinian Legislative Council building in Ramallah).


Armed Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades operatives in
Hamas offices in Nablus (Al-Arabiya TV, June 16)

Dissolving the Palestinian national unity government and
establishing an emergency government

10. On the evening of June 14, after Hamas had taken over the Gaza Strip, PA chairman Abu Mazen issued three presidential orders. One called for the dissolution of the national unity government, which was established on March 17, 2007 following the Mecca Accord. The others declared a state of emergency and his intention to establish an emergency government.

11. Three days later, on June 17, he announced the establishment of an emergency government headed by Salam Fayyad , finance minister of the dissolved national unity government. The new government is technocratic and at this stage composed of 12 ministers. Most of its members are independent and identify with Fatah’s national outlook. The government includes representatives of leftist factions belonging to the PLO, women and Christians. The government tries to make a show of a united force against Hamas (for information about the composition of the new government, see the Appendix ).

12. Hamas spokesmen have repeatedly condemned the establishment of the new government, claiming that Abu Mazen’s actions are illegal and have no practical value. On June 15 Ismail Haniya held a press conference where he said that Hamas’ presence in the national unity government reflects the democratic will of the Palestinian people and that the present government will continue its operations (Al-Aqsa TV, June 15). Acting Palestinian Legislative Council speaker Ahmad Bahar said that the new government would be illegal until it received the confidence of the Legislative Council (where Hamas holds the majority) (Ramattan News Agency, June 16).


Ismail Haniya rejects Abu Mazen’s actions at a press conference
(Al-Aqsa TV, June 15)

13. In effect, that means that the Palestinian Authority now has two governments , one in the Gaza Strip and the other in Judea and Samaria . Each claims to be the legitimate Palestinian government and each will now do what it can to win pan-Arab and international legitimacy and support. At this point, the international community, including the United States and the Quartet, have pledged extensive support to Abu Mazen. Most of the Arab world supports Abu Mazen and condemns Hamas’ actions (as manifested in the statements issued by the emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers on June 15).

Khaled Mashaal’s call for renewed talks between Hamas and Fatah was summarily rejected by Abu Mazen’s supporters

14. After the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, with pictures of murder and destruction still fresh in public consciousness, Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas’ political bureau in Damascus , gave a conciliatory speech calling for the renewal of a dialogue between Hamas and Fatah. Abu Mazen’s supporters were quick to reject the call and again called the Gaza takeover a coup against the institutions of the legitimate Palestinian government.


Khaled Mashaal at a press conference calling for a dialogue
between Hamas and Fatah (Al-Jazeera TV, June 15).

15. The following are the main points of Khaled Mashaal’s declarations (Al-Jazeera TV, June 15):

A. The PA will not be divided between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank . Hamas is not seeking to establish a state in the Gaza Strip because such a state would of necessity turn into the largest prison in history.

B. Hamas respects Fatah and Abu Mazen’s authority, but it was forced to deal with Fatah groups which were determined to prevent the Palestinian people from enjoying security by means of �the warlords of battle and anarchy.� Hamas calls upon Fatah not to move the crisis into the West Bank .

C. The American administration, the international community and the �Zionist enemy� bear the main responsibility for the latest developments. However, the Palestinians themselves cannot entirely divest themselves of responsibility.

D. What is necessary is a Palestinian dialogue between Hamas and Fatah under Arab aegis , so that the problem can be dealt with and solved at its roots. The security services should be rehabilitated and turned into national and professional apparatuses which will not be controlled either by Fatah or Hamas.

16. Khaled Mashaal’s declarations were roundly condemned by Fatah activists and Abu Mazen supporters:

A. PLO secretary Yasser Abd al-Rabbo rejected Khaled Mashaal’s call for a dialogue, saying that � there [can be] no dialogue with murderers .� He added that �Hamas’ Executive Force should be disbanded and the national security forces should return to the status quo ante in the Gaza Strip, before there is any talk about a dialogue.� He said, hinting at Iran , that there were regional forces working behind Hamas whose identity was known (Palestinian News Agency, June 16).

B. Ahmad Abd al-Rahman, one of Abu Mazen’s advisors , again said that there was a military coup raging in the Gaza Strip which had been planned by the Hamas leadership against Palestinian legitimacy and against the democratic process through which Hamas gained rule. � This is a message for the Arab world, let everyone know that these kinds of [radical Islamic] organizations use democracy to gain power and become stronger, and after that they carry out a coup against it. This is a message for the Arab world, from the Pacific Ocean to the [Persian] Gulf .� He also named the Hamas members who, he said, were responsible for the coup: �Sa’id Siyam, Mahmoud al-Zahar, Ahmad al-Jabari and Nizar Riyan� (Al-Jazeera TV, June 15).

C. Mahmoud al-Hurani, a Fatah member of the Revolutionary Council , said the lip service paid by Khaled Mashaal could not atone for what was happening in the Gaza Strip: �A revolution, the use of force against legitimate Palestinian institutions and against the national security forces� (Al-Arabiya TV, June 15).

Hamas again announced it was working to secure the release of Alan Johnston

17. Hamas prime minister smail Haniya called for the release of abducted BBC correspondent Alan Johnston (Al-Aqsa TV, June 15). Hamas also announced that it would take �practical steps� to ensure Johnston ‘s release (AP, Gaza , June 15). Hamas announced it was in contact with the abductors and was trying to secure his release (Reuters, Gaza , June 15). It was reported that there were Hamas operatives gathered around the houses of the Daghmash clan in the al-Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City where, apparently, Johnston is being held (Pal-media Website, June 16).

18. In our assessment, Hamas is trying to demonstrate �responsibility� and �good will� toward the British as part of a ploy to gain international legitimacy after having taken over the Gaza Strip .

Appendix

The New Palestinian Government First Assessment

Overview

1. On June 17 Abu Mazen announced the establishment of a new government headed by Dr. Salam Fayyad. The event occurred three months after the swearing in of the Palestinian national unity government, established following the Mecca Accord ( March 17, 2007 ).

2. The new government has 12 technocratic members, most of whom do not have political power bases . Most of them are independent and identify with Fatah’s national outlook. The representatives are women, Christians and members of left wing factions of the PLO. An attempt is made to show a unified political and social force without Hamas participation. The presidential secretary general said that the names of additional ministers would be announced soon (Ynet, June 17).

3. The following is the preliminary information available about the makeup of the new government (Ma’an and Wafa News Agencies and PPN, June 17, as of 1 p.m. ), and personal details about some of the government ministers.

The makeup of the government 1

Prime Minister, Foreign and Treasury Ministers �
Dr. Salam Khaled Abdallah Fayyad

•  Origins : Born in 1952 in Tulkarm.

•  Political affiliation : Third Way faction representative in Palestinian Legislative Council, he served as chairman of the financial committee of the Legislative Council.

•  Marital status : Married, father of three children.

•  Education : PhD in economics from University of Texas ; financial expert.

•  Activities : Has a reputation in the international community as reliable. Served as International Monetary Fund representative in the PA and as the regional director of the Arab Bank in the PA-administered territories. Served as finance minister and chairman of the board of directors of the Palestinian Investment Fund in the governments of Abu Mazen and Abu Alaa’. He succeeded in bringing a certain measure of stability to the PA’s budget and in instituting significant reforms.

•  During the past year his involvement in politics increased and in December 2006 he was appointed as head of the PLO’s financial department, with the objective of increasing Abu Mazen’s control over the money the Palestinians received in support from abroad. 

Interior and Civil Affairs Minister � Abd al-Razaq al-Yahya

•  Activities : Formerly served as interior minister. Affiliated with Fatah. Was a member of the PLO’s executive committee and head of the Palestinian Liberation Army.

Minister of Local Administration and Agriculture � Ziyad al-Bandak

•  Origins : Christian from Bethlehem .

•  Activities : Affiliated with Fatah, formerly served as minister of tourism and archaeology for the Palestinian Authority.

Minister of Tourism and Women’s Affairs � Khouloud Frances Khalil Daibes

•  Origins : Born in 1965 in Bethlehem . Christian, holds an East Jerusalem identity card.

•  Political affiliation : Affiliated with Fatah.

•  Marital status : Married.

•  Education : PhD in architecture from Hanover University , 1995.

•  Activities : Served as tourism minister in the Palestinian national unity government. Directs the Center for Cultural Preservation in Bethlehem . Coordinates projects with the European Union for cultural preservation. Member of the Palestinian and Jordanian engineers associations and of the Palestinian architects’ society.

Economy and Public Works Minister � Muhammad Kamal Hasouna

•  Activities : Member of the board of directors of the General Federation of Palestinian Industries.

Education and Culture Minister � Lameeis al-Alami

•  Political affiliation : Independent.

•  Education : MA in applied languages from Edinboro University in Britain and MA from the American University in Beirut in English.

•  Activities : Director of the Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights; member of the advisory council of the Al-Quds Open University. 

Planning and Labor Minister � Dr. Samir Abdallah

•  Political affiliation : Affiliated with the People’s Party.

•  Education : PhD in economics. 

Health Minister � Fathi Abu Maghli

•  Education : MD degree.

•  Activities : Director of projects in World Health Organization. 

Justice and Information Minister � Riyad al-Malaki

•  Political affiliation : Was a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. 

Islamic Endowments and Social Affairs Minister � Jamal Bawatna

•  Activities : Serves as Mufti for the Ramallah region. 

Transportation Minister � Mashhour Abu Duqqa

•  Origins : Gaza Strip.

•  Education : PhD in information technologies.

•  Political affiliation : Independent.

•  Activities : Was general director of the Association of Palestinian Information Systems Companies in Ramallah and an advisor to the Palestinian communications ministry.

Prisoners’ Affairs, Youth and Sports Minister � Ashraf al-Ajrami

•  Origins : Gaza Strip.