BEIRUT

Middle East

Palestinian PM to head unity government

In this Tuesday, June 11, 2013 file photo, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah attends his first meeting of the new government cabinet in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File)

RAMALLAH, Palestine: Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is to head the consensus government to be formed under a deal with Hamas to end seven years of rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza, an official said Thursday.

“The government is nearly ready, and Rami Hamdallah will be prime minister,” the official close to the reconciliation negotiations told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “informed Mr. Hamdallah yesterday [Wednesday] that he would head the government,” the official said.

Hamdallah is the prime minister of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. Hamas has a rival prime minister in Gaza – Ismail Haniyeh.

Haniyeh’s adviser said Hamas “had no objection” to the decision.

A senior official from Abbas’ Fatah party is due in Gaza Sunday to “finalize consultations” on the government, Naim said.

On April 23, Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization – dominated by Fatah – signed a surprise reconciliation deal aimed at forging a unified administration.

Under the deal, the two sides agreed to form an “independent government” of technocrats, headed by Abbas, paving the way for long-delayed elections. 

The reconciliation agreement incensed Israel, putting the final nail in the coffin of faltering U.S.-led peace talks.

Hamas, which does not recognize Israel, has ruled Gaza since it expelled Fatah after a week of deadly clashes in 2007.

The new government will still need the approval of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament, which was elected in 2006, Haniyeh said last week.

The European Union and the U.S. have said repeatedly that they will have no dealings with any government involving Hamas until the group renounces violence and recognizes Israel.

 

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