The new Palestinian Government Cabinet meet in Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s office in Tuesday morning in Ramallah.
But, even by the end of the day, there was still not official Palestinian list of the members of the new Palestinian Government…Asked for a list on Tuesday afternoon, Dr Ehab Bseisso, the Palestinian Government Spokesman, told me a list of ministers in the new government “is being prepared” and “will be distributed to journalists”…See our post yesterday for best available information on this.
The four members of the new government who live in Gaza participated in Tuesday morning’s Cabinet meeting by videoconference — as we learned only from Twitter.
@rudoren · Per @galberger , 4 new Gaza-based ministers (barred by Israel from WB) partake via video in Palestinian Cabinet mtg https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BpMgO77CAAEIskq.jpg …
Hayfa al-Agha – Minister of Women’s Affairs
Salem as-Safa [al-Saqqa?] – Minister of Justice
Mufeed Hassayneh – Minister of Public Works + Housing
Ma’moun Abu Shahla – Minister of Labor
Ehab Bseisso also told me the four (4) ministers coming from Gaza — including the “important” Ministers of Justice + of Labor — got all the way to Erez Terminal before they were turned back and not allowed to proceed through to Ramallah for yesterday’s swearing-in ceremony. That is, the four ministers went through the Hamas checkpoint, through the Palestinian Authority checkpoint, and they walked one kilometer on foot under observation by soldiers in a military tower, before they could enter the Erez Terminal — and they then were told they could not proceed…
All this information [which he alternatively dismissed as “details”] was in the news, Dr. Bseisso said [though none of it was]. He insisted that the only question that should be asked is why Israel would not allow them through.
Why was there a videoconference today, for the cabinet meeting [but not yesterday, for the swearing-in]? After more verbal sparring, Dr. Bseisso said that they believed assurances they had received up until the last minute that everything would be fine [despite prominently-published news reports on Sunday saying that Israel would not allow the ministers from Gaza to come to Ramallah]. So, they had made no preparations for a videoconference.
However, as it was now clear that the ministers could not travel, a videoconference was arranged for today, Dr. Bseisso explained…
In remarks to journalists today in Ramallah, PM Hamdallah reportedly said that “All members of the government will go to Gaza despite the measures taken by Israel to prevent Gaza-based ministers from going to Ramallah” …apparently, even if this means travelling to Gaza via Egypt rather than via Israel. This was reported by the Times of Israel, here.
From Brussels today, the European Union High Rep for Foreign and Policy Affairs issued this statement:
“We take note of the news of the establishment of a Palestinian national consensus government headed by Prime Minister Hamdallah. This is an important step in the process of Palestinian reconciliation.
We welcome the appointment of a government of independent personalities and the declaration by President Abbas that this new government is committed to the principle of the two state solution based on the 1967 borders, to the recognition of Israel’s legitimate right to exist, to non-violence and to the respect of previous agreements. The EU’s engagement with the new Palestinian government will be based on its adherence to these policies and commitments. The process of Palestinian reconciliation faces many challenges but it also creates new opportunities for the peace process, for democratic renewal and for the Palestinian people in both Gaza and the West Bank”.
At about the same time, Palestinian PM Hamdallah met with local representatives in EU delegations in Ramallah and in East Jerusalem, and briefed them “on the latest developments regarding the new consensus government”.
However, Dr. Bseisso told me, the travel ban placed on the ministers from Gaza had been raised with the local EU Reps. “This is contrary to the minister’s rights, against all international laws, and completely unacceptable”, Dr. Bseisso said.
In the photo, John Gatt-Rutter, EU representative of the European Union, was seated at the head of the table, on the right hand side of PM Hamdallah, and Palestinian Govt Spox Ehab Bseisso was seated on PM Hamdallah’s left.
Later, PM Hamdallah received a visit from the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry.
After Serry’s visit, UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-Moon issued a statement though his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, saying that “The United Nations has long underscored the need for progress towards Palestinian unity…The United Nations stands ready to lend its full support to the newly formed government in its effort to reunite the West Bank and Gaza … under one legitimate Palestinian authority”. This was reported here here. The UN News Centre also did a report, posted here.
And the full statement issued on behalf of the UNSG is posted here:
“The United Nations stands ready to lend its full support to the newly formed government in its effort to reunite the West Bank and Gaza, in line with the intra-Palestinian unity agreement of 23 April, under one legitimate Palestinian authority, including by addressing the serious political, security, humanitarian and economic challenges in Gaza, and holding long overdue elections. Special Coordinator Serry discussed those issues with Prime Minister Hamdallah in their meeting today”.
And, PM Hamdallah received a phone call later in the day from the UK Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague… We are informed by the Palestinian Government Media Center that “Dr. Hamdallah expressed the government’s high regard for UK support and emphasized the importance of International support to the new government both politically and financially, in order to enable the government to sustain its duties to the Palestinian people?.]