Chronology: Palestinian Affairs

The Middle East Journal, Autumn 2007 | Go to article overview

Chronology: Palestinian Affairs


See also Arab-Israeli Conflict, Lebanon

May 14: Interior Minister Hani al-Qawasmi resigned from his position in the Palestinian government, asserting that neither Hamas nor Fatah had granted his ministry the power it needed to combat lawlessness. AlQawasmi attempted to resign at the end of April, citing the government's lack of progress in executing reforms, but Prime Minister Ismaii Haniyya rejected the resignation. [Guardian, 5/14, BBC, 5/15]

May 15: Five hundred Fatah troops entered the Gaza Strip at the Rafah crossing with Israeli authorization. Trained under a USbacked program, the troops were dispatched to support Fatah troops battling Hamas militants. After its 2005 evacuation from Gaza, Israel had ceded control of the Rafah crossing to the Palestinians and Egyptians, but it continued to deny entry to groups it deemed suspicious. [WP, 5/18]

Jun. 12: President Mahmud 'Abbas suspended Fatah's activities in the unity government after Hamas coalition forces captured several Fatah security posts in Gaza. 'Abbas stated that Fatah's participation would resume after the two factions reached a ceasefire. The suspension served as a symbolic gesture, a step away from completely dissolving the unity government. [FT, 6/14]

Jun. 14: Hamas gunmen secured control of Gaza after seizing almost all Fatah-aligned security force bases in the territory, including the fortified headquarters of the Preventive security forces. The takeover led President 'Abbas to dismiss the Hamas-led unity government and declare a state of emergency. Hamas and Fatah leaders agreed to form the unity government in March 2007 to end factional fighting. [FT, 6/14]

Jun. 17: President 'Abbas appointed an emergency cabinet, naming Salam Fayyad its Prime Minister. The cabinet was designed to replace the national unity government under Prime Minister Haniyya, who had ruled over Gaza since June 14. As the cabinet had not received parliamentary approval, some declared the body illegal. [WP, 6/18]

Jun. 22: President 'Abbas dismissed Rashid 'Abu Shbak from his role as director of internal security. Appointed to the post in April 2006, Shbak was opposed by Hamas for conducting raids against the faction and Hamas militants had attacked Shbak's Gaza home in May 2007, killing several of his guards. Though not explicitly stated as a reason for his dismissal, Shbak was criticized for his failure to prevent Hamas' seizure of the Gaza Strip. [BBC, 6/22]

Jun. 26: President 'Abbas issued a decree requiring Palestinians to obtain a permit to carry weapons and explosives. The decree only took effect in the West Bank, as Hamas had seized control of the Gaza Strip on June 14. [BBC, 6/26]

Jul. 2: In Gaza, members of the Army of Islam, including its spokesman Khattab alMaqdisi, were detained by Hamas security forces for their involvement in the March 12 kidnapping of BBC reporter Alan Johnston. The Hamas-run Interior Ministry said that the arrests were made after peaceful negotiations for Johnston's release failed. Relations between Hamas and the Army of Islam had worsened since the former took control of the Gaza Strip in mid-June. [BBC, 7/2]

Jul. 4: After 114 days in captivity, BBC correspondent Alan Johnston was released by members of the Army of Islam to Hamas officials in Gaza City. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recognized Hamas' role in securing Johnston's release, specifically the pressure it placed on Army of Islam. However, he noted that Britain's policy towards Hamas would not change. Johnston was kidnapped by the Army of Islam, a militant group based in the Gaza Strip and dominated by the Dugmush clan. [BBC, 7/4]

Three days after Israel initiated a transfer of tax funds, the PA paid its civil servants their full salaries for the first time since March 2006. However, President 'Abbas' government refused to compensate Hamas-aligned civil servants, who, according to Hamas, numbered 23,000. …

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