Hamas Presents Haniyeh With List of Ministerial Nominees

Haniyeh warns against further delay in forming PA government, saying it may embolden unity opponents.

Hamas gave Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh its list of nominees for ministerial posts in a national unity cabinet on Saturday, but a source in the Islamist movement declined to reveal the names.

Of the 12 Cabinet ministers proposed by Hamas, seven are from the West Bank and five from Gaza, said Salah Bardawil, a Hamas spokesman. None of the Gaza candidates served previously in parliament or the Cabinet, he said.

Under a power-sharing agreement, Hamas can nominate 12 Cabinet ministers, including three independents, while Fatah can propose eight, including two independents. Haniyeh will remain prime minister, while Fatah will be able to fill the post of deputy prime minister.

Former Finance Minister Salam Fayyad is expected to return to the post and is also a leading candidate for deputy prime minister.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas aide Azzam al-Ahmed said after a late-night meeting with Haniyeh on Friday the Fatah list could be ready by Sunday and that the government could be formed by the end of the week.

Haniyeh appealed to faction leaders on Friday to finish choosing ministers for a unity government, warning further delay could embolden opponents of the deal.

Haniyeh had asked Abbas's Fatah faction and other groups to submit their choices by Friday, ahead of a planned meeting with Abbas in the Gaza Strip.

But Fatah and Hamas officials said they needed more time for deliberations. The final make-up of the new government may not be settled for another week, a Hamas official said.

Speaking at a Gaza City mosque before Friday prayers, Haniyeh said his goal was to form the unity government quickly to "block the way for parties that want to force us to retreat and put pressure on the people, the president and the government."

Hamas and Fatah officials offered no immediate explanation for the delay and it was unclear how long it would last. Both sides promised to accelerate formation of a unity government but offered no details.

"We have ended the consultations with the factions, the parliament blocs and Palestinian figures, and we had asked the factions and parliament blocs to provide the names of their candidates within a few days," Haniyeh said.

Haniyeh aide Ghazi Hamad said he expected Abbas and Haniyeh to meet in Gaza on Sunday, rather than on Saturday as previously planned, but it was unclear if outstanding issues would be settled by then.

On Thursday, Abbas appointed a new West Bank leadership for his Fatah movement as part of a series of organizational reforms.

Among those appointed to the new West Bank leadership are Fatah activists from East Jerusalem, including: Hathem Abdul Kadr, Abdul Kadr Al-Hatib, and Salah Zuheikeh. Abbas also decided to include in the leadership the directors-general of various Fatah branches throughout the West Bank.