New Palestinian PM faces myriad challenges, say analysts

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtayeh at his office in Ramallah. (FIle/AFP)
Updated 14 March 2019

New Palestinian PM faces myriad challenges, say analysts

  • The majority of Palestinian political factions wasted little time rejecting his appointment

GAZA CITY: Mohammed Ishtayeh, the man charged with forming a new Palestinian government, faces many challenges.

Carrying the “heavy legacy” of predecessor Rami Hamdallah, who headed the national reconciliation government that emerged between Fatah and Hamas in 2014, he knows he cannot count on the support of Gaza’s ruling faction.

It is not just Hamas he must win round. The majority of Palestinian political factions wasted little time rejecting his appointment, calling it a move by President Mahmoud Abbas that “violated the national consensus.” Moreover, the new prime minister must also contend with a growing financial crisis, partially as a result of Israeli tax policies, which has not been made easier by increased tensions between Israel and Hamas in recent months along the border with Gaza.

Abbas Zaki, a member of Fatah’s central committee, told Arab News that Ishtiyah possessed leadership qualities that would enable him to succeed, despite his mandate coming in “very difficult circumstances.” 

He stressed, though, that unless it had a “very clear” long-term vision, any government he formed would probably fail.

Ahmad Bahar, the first deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, claimed any government of Ishtayeh would be “unconstitutional and illegal.”

Bahar, also a senior Hamas figure, called the coming government a “separatist” entity, seeking to “split the West Bank from the Gaza Strip ... and strengthen internal divisions and eliminate any glimmer of hope in achieving national unity.”

Talal Abu Zarifa, a senior member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, justified his faction’s refusal to support Ishtayeh, saying his government would “widen the circle of difference and division in Palestine.”

The political analyst Hossam Al-Dajani, though, told Arab News that Ishtayeh would look for ways to break through the challenges facing his government, both in terms of the relationship with Hamas and the other factions in Gaza, but that his success would depend on the extent of freedom granted to him by Abbas to make decisions, and less on opposition from Hamas.

Iran denies joint raid with Turkey against Kurd rebels

The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan clashed with Iranian forces in ethnically Kurdish areas near the border. (AFP/File)
Updated 2 min 9 sec ago

Iran denies joint raid with Turkey against Kurd rebels

  • Minister Suleyman Soylu said the countries were conducting joint operations without specifying location
  • Iran previously carried out operations against Party of Free Life of Kurdistan

TEHRAN: Iran has denied a claim by the Turkish interior minister that it took part in a joint operation on Monday targeting Kurdish rebels in the border area.
In recent weeks, Ankara has talked up the prospects of joint military action with Tehran against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its allies but Monday marked the first time it had spoken of a joint operation being carried out.
“Iran’s armed forces have no role in this operation,” the official IRNA news agency quoted an “informed source” in the general staff as saying on Monday evening.
However Iran “will forcefully confront any group that seeks to create unrest on our country’s soil,” the source added.
Earlier on Monday, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said: “We started staging a joint operation with Iran against the PKK on our eastern border as of 8 am (0500 GMT).”
Soylu did not specify where the joint operation was taking place but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said previously that joint military action would focus on PKK rear bases in Iraq near where the three countries’ borders meet.
The Turkish military has carried out repeated bombing campaigns against PKK targets in Iraq’s northern mountains during its more than three-decade campaign to crush the rebels’ campaign for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey.
In recent years, Tehran too has carried out operations in northern Iraq against suspected rear bases of the PKK’s Iran-focused ally, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK).
PJAK is one of a number of Kurdish rebel groups that have fought the Iranian security forces in ethnic Kurdish districts along the border.
Another PKK ally, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), is the main Kurdish armed group in Syria where, to the fury of Ankara, it has been a key ally in the US-led campaign against the extremists of the Daesh group which is now drawing to a close.