USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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BBC News: Vote due on Palestinian cabinet

Posted by uscsjp on March 17, 2007

Ismail Haniya

Ismail Haniya seems likely to have the Cabinet approved

A new Palestinian unity government formed of members of the rival Fatah and Hamas factions is being presented before parliament in Gaza. The vote of confidence in the new cabinet of prospective Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas is expected to be a formality.

Palestinians hope there will then be an end to a crippling Western boycott.

The EU and UN have indicated there could be a softening, but Israel says the government is a step backwards.

Finance minister

The parliament opened its session shortly after 1100 local time (0900 GMT) to hear a speech from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the leader of Fatah.

Mr Haniya was then presenting his planned cabinet and reading a policy speech before the vote of confidence.

Mahmoud Abbas

Israel has indicated it will deal with only Mahmoud Abbas

If ratified, the ministers will then be sworn in at Mr Abbas’s office.

The Palestinian economy has been badly hit by the international embargo.

It was imposed after the election victory in January last year of Hamas, which rejects international calls for it to recognise Israel and renounce violence.

The BBC’s Matthew Price in Jerusalem says the new government contains a cross section of Palestinian parties, including some ministers who recognise Israel.

As a result, he says, UN and EU sources have indicated there will be a softening in their stance towards the government.

The US has also indicated it may leave the door open to some contact with the proposed finance minister.

Salam Fayyad is a Western-backed economist who is thought to be respected by the Bush administration.

One US official said Washington would not deal with him officially but might consider unofficial contacts.

Israel, however, said it would shun the new administration.

Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh said on Friday that Israel should try to deal with only Mr Abbas as a means to “drive Hamas out of power”.

Increasing lawlessness

Although there have been signs of a softening in the international stance towards the new government, particularly by France and Russia, there are no guarantees the international boycott will end. (continued)

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