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The Hamas government, led by Haniyeh, of course spurned the demands that would have lifted the sanctions.
President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Haniyeh from office on 14 June 2007 at the height of the Battle for Gaza, but Haniyeh did not acknowledge the decree and continues to exercise prime ministerial authority in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Legislative Council also continues to recognize his authority.
On June 14, 2007, Abbas also appointed Salam Fayyad in Haniyeh’s place. This followed action by Hamas armed forces to take control of Gaza. The appointment of Fayyad to replace Haniyeh has been challenged as illegal, because under the Palestinian Basic Law, the president of the Palestinian Authority may dismiss a sitting prime minister, but may not appoint a replacement without the approval of the Palestinian Legislative Council. According to the law, until a new prime minister is thus appointed, the outgoing prime minister heads a caretaker government. Fayyad’s appointment was never placed before, or approved, by the Legislative Council. For this reason, Haniyeh has continued to operate in Gaza, and been recognized by a large number of Palestinians as the legitimate acting prime minister. Anis al-Qasem, the Palestinian constitutional lawyer who drafted the Basic Law, is among those who publicly declared the appointment of Fayyad to be illegal.
Illegal or not, Fayyad has maintained his appointment as Palestinian prime minister for five years. This perhaps demonstrates that the wheels of law and justice in government are not the most essential parts of political life in the Palestinian view of things. Haniyeh’s election as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in 2006 is obviously what gives him the temerity to travel the world and wave the Hamas flag and pretend to be the official spokesman for Palestinian and Islamic liberation. Technically he won election as Palestinian prime minister fair and square. It is Abbas and his cronies who are playing fast and loose with the rule of Palestinian election law. But no one seems to wag a finger in protest, much less condemnation.
The picture is not simple because Hamas refused to concede on their stubborn Islamic aspirations in Gaza and in 2007 violently overcame the Fatah forces there and took over the entire strip in a bloody coup. All Fatah loyalists were either chased out of Gaza or killed. Five years after the coup one would think there would be some residue of anger and resentment in the Abbas Fatah circle that would compel them to view Hamas negatively, and work to prevent any rapprochement or Palestinian unity. But Abbas is beating the drum aggressively for rapprochement with Hamas and even wants to integrate Hamas in the PA political structure. This of course is the height of Palestinian folderol and balderdash and serves only as a tactic to stab Israel in the back.
While there had been a Hamas-Fatah unity government for a few months in 2006, when Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, Abbas abolished the unity government, boldly announced the dismissal of Haniyeh and his equally bold intention to rule the territories of the PA by presidential decree.
Following the takeover of the Gaza Strip Egypt and Israel sealed their border crossings with Gaza, on the grounds that Fatah had fled and was no longer providing security on the Palestinian side. Egypt fearing a spill-over of Hamas-style militancy into their territory assisted in the blockade. The sanctions were tightened in response to Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel and terrorist attacks on crossing points between Israel and Gaza. Israel’s main reason for maintaining a blockade on Gaza is that the blockade prevents illegal smuggling of weapons to Hamas.
In brief, through typical folderol and balderdash Ismail Haniyeh is struggling to put a human face on the Hamas terrorist organization, but this is like struggling to take the hump out of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Hamas will always be an evil inhuman organization despite the crowds cheering for Hamas and Haniyeh in Tunis and despite the warmth and cordiality it receives from Turkey’s Erdogan, among other Islamofascists.
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