Ali Al Jerbawi, a political analyst and a professor of political science at Bir Zeit university in the West Bank, is also the former chairman of the Palestinian Elections Commission.

He believes Western pressure on the Palestinians was intended to coerce them into handing over their rights to Israel, including the right to have a viable and territorially contiguous state in the West Bank.
 
His remarks coincided with American and European steps to cut economic aid to the new government.

The following are excerpts of the interview.
 
Al Jazeera.net: Do you think the pressures against the Hamas-led government will bring about its collapse?
 
Al-Jerbawi: This is the question that everybody is asking.

It is clear that these sanctions and pressures are aimed first and foremost at aborting and corroding the Hamas-led government. The disintegration of the PA itself is not the goal. The aim is to weaken Hamas in order to pave the way for an Israeli-imposed solution.
 
The ultimate benchmark of the government is its ability to regularly pay the salaries of the estimated 140,000 public servants and government employees. If the government fails to pay the salaries, it will collapse.
 
How would Hamas deal with this?
 
Hamas could decide to take the entire Palestinian Authority with it or make it very hard or even impossible for any subsequent non-Hamas government to rule.
 
Is this a realistic scenario?
 
I don't think that a movement that was elected by a huge majority a few weeks ago would just agree to quit very easily.

We have to remember that the collapse of the government would also entail the collapse of the parliament and the cancelling of the elections. That would be a grave and paramount matter in any other country.
 
What options does Hamas have?
 
They could resort to violence, in which case they would argue that since the world didn't respect the outcome of the democratic game, then armed struggle is the only way to restore Palestinian rights from Israel.
 
I previously advised Hamas to form a government whose ministers would not be affiliated with any political or resistance faction. This would have saved Hamas a lot of trouble while at the same time allowing the movement to retain its control of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
 
Do you think Hamas will undergo a further radicalisation if the present government collapses?
 
I don't think Hamas would move towards al-Qaeda. However, I repeat that any movement that feels it is under attack will do everything it can to make the tasks of its enemies very difficult to achieve.
 
What would be the regional ramifications of a prospective collapse of the PA?
 
There would be a lot of desperation and outrage in the region and many people would lose faith in Western democracy.
 
How is Israel affected by this?
 
Israel wants to see a quisling PA or at least a PA that is so weak but not completely dead which would enable Israel to evade responsibility towards the occupied people and at the same time continue to impose unilateral measures on the Palestinians as Israel has been doing.
 
How do you think the Palestinians should react to this?
 
The Palestinians would think seriously of dissolving and ending the Palestinian Authority because we can't allow ourselves to be in a state of suspension, under the occupation on the ground, but "free" in the eyes of much of the world.
 
Do you think the Arab states will help the Hamas government during this financial crisis?
 
Are you serious? The Arab states didn't help [the late Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat when he was under siege for two years in Ramallah.

These states won't help the present Palestinian government for two main reasons: First, they are themselves under intense American pressure and influence and seem unable to assert a sovereign policy towards the Palestinians.

Second, they think that the success of the Hamas government is dangerous for the stability of their regimes, given the Islamic or Islamist nature of the present Palestinian  government.
 
Where did Hamas go wrong?
 
They made a serious blunder when they appointed their top political and ideological leaders as key ministers in the government. They also made declarations which meant they climbed up to the top of the ladder and had to come down and make concessions.
 
Do you think Hamas should recognise Israel but without a reciprocal Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state, say within the 1967 borders?
 
Hamas shouldn't say: "I don't recognise Israel, period."

Hamas should say it is willing to recognise Israel if Israel is willing to recognise a sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and allows the repatriation of Palestinian refugees. I think the world community would receive such a stand with understanding and less hostility.