“This government is a legitimate government,” insisted Ashraf Ajrami, the newly appointed minister for prisoner affairs and sports. “The old government doesn’t exist.”
Having shed the participation of Hamas, the Fatah government in the West Bank is poised to receive a windfall of international aid, as well as customs taxes that Israel had withheld from the previous Islamist-dominated government.
Israeli security officials reportedly hope to enforce a strict separation between Gaza and the West Bank to contain Hamas influence on the coastal strip.
Already isolated by Israel’s closure of its borders, the Hamas-led mini-state in Gaza will find itself impoverished economically and dependent on international humanitarian aid. Dor Energy, one of Israel’s top gasoline companies, said yesterday it would stop supplying fuel to Gaza.
“Now they have thrown Fatah out, the question is how can they survive?” said Mohammed Dajani, a political science professor at Al Quds University in Jerusalem.
“They don’t have geographic contact with a state that will give them support. [The Gaza-Egypt crossing at] Rafah is their only connection to the world. You are talking about a situation that is a crash-landing situation.”
Mr. Dajani noted that Gaza and the West Bank have for years been two very different places, dating from the period between 1948 and 1967 when the West Bank was part of Jordan and Gaza was administered by Egypt.
Even under Israeli occupation, Gaza remained poorer and more religiously conservative, while the West Bank became known for its larger middle class and more secular outlook.
“The two separate systems has been there all the time,” Mr. Dajani said. “This has widened the gap between two entities.”