Jerusalem – One of the cardinal assumptions of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was that the world would not recognize a government headed by Hamas. She had been proven wrong, because Mahmoud Abbas has successfully sold the idea to the world, since he is the figurehead leader of that government.
Last Thursday, Abbas met with the Swedish prime minister in Stockholm. Following the meeting, Abbas said that he found that there was a positive atmosphere that tended toward lifting the economic siege on the Palestinian government. Saeb Erekat, the director of negotiations in the Palestinian Authority, said last week that the PLO recently signed an agreement with SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, that the latter would donate $25 million in aid to the Palestinian people in addition to the aid that Sweden transfers to the Palestinian people by means of UNRWA and other international organizations.
Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr said last week that a number of countries, like France, Spain and Norway, intend to normalize their relations with the Palestinian government.
Different voices are beginning to be heard in the United States as well. While the U.S. administration is prevented by law from helping a government that is headed by a member of Hamas, which was defined by the United States as a terrorist organization, a spokeswoman for the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem said last week that financial relations with the PLO were not a violation of American law. She was referring to the possibility that the United States might take steps against the PLO similar to the ones being taken against the Hamas government, particularly in light of the recent Palestinian efforts to revive the PLO and the possibility of placing Hamas and Islamic Jihad under the PLO umbrella.
Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayad met last Wednesday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington to discuss the financial restrictions currently placed on the Palestinian government.
Following the meeting, Fayad said that the secretary of state was understanding of the government’s needs to manage its banking affairs without restrictions in order to ensure transparency. Fayad said that the minimum sum the Palestinian government needed to get through 2007 was $ 1.8 billion.
Yet the U.S. government behaves as if this is not a Hamas government, when that is exactly what it is.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007