Palestinian Unity Gov't Will Continue Its 'Resistance,' Hamas Says

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:18 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - The platform for the Palestinian Authority's new unity government says that "resistance" (a euphemism for terrorism) will continue until Palestinian refugees are allowed to live once again on land inside Israel, according to excerpts published on Hamas websites.

Israeli leaders firmly reject the so-called "right of return," because demographically speaking, it would destroy the Jewish State from within.

Israel insists that it will not deal with the new unity government if it does not accept the three principles outlined by the international community: recognition of Israel's right to exist, an end to terrorism, and willingness to abide by previous Israeli-P.A. agreements.

After months of wrangling, P.A. Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh finalized the makeup of their unity government on Wednesday. The Palestinian parliament will give final approval to the new government on Saturday, Haniyeh said.

Abbas reportedly plans to deliver a speech at Saturday's gathering in the Gaza Strip to explain how the new government will work.

But two Hamas websites may have beat him to it -- publishing excerpts of the government's new platform, media reports said.

According to those reports, the new unity government will affirm that "resistance is a legitimate right for the Palestinian people."

Ending the resistance "depends on [Israel] ending the occupation and [the Palestinians] achieving freedom and [the right of] return and independence," the platform reportedly says.

It also says the unity government will respect "international resolutions and agreements signed by the PLO" as long as they are in line with the "higher national interests" and rights of the Palestinian people.

Israel rejected the idea of dealing with the unity government on Thursday.

"The new unity government sadly does not include explicit or implicit adoption of the three international principles," said Miri Eisen, spokeswoman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

There is no recognition of Israel, no agreement to abide by former treaties between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and no renunciation of terrorism, Eisen said by telephone.

Following Hamas' landslide victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections last year, the Quartet - the U.S., European Union, Russia and United Nations - imposed economic sanctions on the P.A. until it agreed to thosethree conditions.

Eisen said Israel would not "recognize or deal with this [unity] government" because it did not fulfill the conditions. "Israel expects the international community to stand firm in their demands to accept all three principles," she said.

But it's not clear if that will happen.

An American diplomat said Washington would likely "wait and see" how the new government is organized and how it "articulates and implements its policies." The U.S. is looking at Palestinians' actions, not words, he said.

The European Union is waiting as well, a European diplomat said. But he noted that among the E.U. member states there are differing opinions -- and some believe there is room to interpret the three conditions.

He said the E.U.'s position was closer to that of Russia than to that of the U.S.

The Russian government has openly received senior Hamas officials and has encouraged the formation of a Palestinian unity government.

Despite its rejection of the new P.A. government, Israel is expected to keep working with Abbas, and so is the United States.

Israel will continue to keep an "open dialogue" with Abbas on issues pertaining to "improving the quality of life" for the Palestinians, Eisen said.

Both the U.S. and Israel have backed Abbas as a "moderate" force among Palestinians, even allowing the transfer of weapons to P.A. forces loyal to him.

But critics insist that Abbas is no moderate - and is merely providing a fig leaf for Hamas and its policies.

Despite all the talk of unity on Wednesday, there was more violence between Hamas and Fatah supporters - a clash that left at least one Palestinian dead.

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