A new Palestinian Authority government, led by Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, was sworn in by President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday. The new government was formed after former Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah resigned in January. The new government, however, would surely affect the Palestinian Authority's internal affairs as well as its relations with Gaza and Hamas, which has already expressed its displeasure with Shtayyeh's appointment. Last year, Palestinians became more hopeful than ever that the differences between the two ruling parties – Fatah and Hamas – would finally come to an end. They were indeed very close to reconciliation following a process that ran more than two years. As part of the deal, Hamas was going to hand over control of Gaza and accept the establishment of a unified government under the leadership of Fatah.
In return, the Palestinian Authority was going to lift sanctions and by doing so ease the living conditions in the densely populated city.
Hamas had accepted the formation of a unified national government under the mediation of Egypt. According to the deal, state officials in Gaza would be paid by the Palestinian Authority. While in power, Hamas had failed to make ends meet due to a lack of financial resources. After Hamas came into power in 2007, the Palestinian Authority asked state officials not to continue their work in the offices. As a result, Hamas employed 40,000 officials.
In addition, the Palestinian Authority was going to lift the sanctions. The ministries in both Gaza and the West Bank will be governed by one government and their bodies will start working in harmony. The Palestinian Authority has been imposing certain sanctions, including salary cuts and banning the delivery of medical equipment.
In line with the internal reconciliation, hope for peace with Israel flourished as well. Israeli media had claimed Hamas and Israeli officials had reached a deal after the two Palestinian factions accepted unification. Because Israel considers Hamas a terror organization, it was more likely to carry out talks with the Palestinian Authority.
However, the internal reconciliation and talks with Israel failed after certain points remained unclear. Hamas refrained from handing power in Gaza. In turn, Israel along with the Palestinian Authority refused to abolish the embargo and other restrictions. As a result, the new government has excluded Hamas and other political parties, who refused to take part in the unification efforts. Recently, Palestinian writer Atef Abu Seif, who was allegedly beaten in the Hamas-run enclave, was appointed as culture minister in the new Palestinian government.
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