Abbas Loyalists Dominate New Palestinian Government

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday swore in a new government headed by a loyalist from his dominant Fatah party, a move rejected by Hamas as a blow to unity efforts, Reuters reports.

Mohammed Shtayyeh, an economist and longtime Abbas adviser, will serve as prime minister of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA). Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and Finance Minister Shukri Bishara will continue in their positions.

Shtayyeh was named Palestinian prime minister on March 10, replacing the independent university president Rami Al-Hamdallah. He will run the ministries of interior and religious affairs until new appointees are named for the two posts.

The rival Hamas group that runs Gaza called the move blow to unity efforts that faltered since the two groups signed a new reconciliation deal in Cairo in October 2017, but disputes over power-sharing had blocked the implementation of the agreement.

A statement issued by Hamas as the swearing ceremony in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank ended, said:

Two factions of Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) refused to take part in Shtayyeh’s government.

Two factions of Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) refused to take part in Shtayyeh’s government.

Moreover, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is heading toward a fifth term in office after an election on April 9, said he would annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank if he is re-elected.

If implemented, the move would be a grave a blow to Palestinian aspirations of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. The peace process has all but collapsed and Israel has expanded its settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank despite international objections.

Palestinian leaders said Israel was being empowered by US President Donald Trump to violate national and human rights of the people of Palestine.

Source: Palestine Chronicle