West Bank PM to Head Unity Government

Contrary to prior reports, official tells AFP that Rami Hamdallah will be prime minister of unified Fatah-Hamas government, not President Abbas.

Mahmoud and Rami
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah attending prayers for Eid al-Fitr in Ramallah, Aug. 8, 2013. AP

The Palestinian prime minister and not President Mahmoud Abbas will head the unity government that Fatah and Hamas are assembling to reunite the West Bank and Gaza administrations, AFP reported Thursday.

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

While Hamdallah is the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas functions as prime minister in Gaza.

Hamas "had no objection" to the decision, said Bassem Naim, an adviser to Haniyeh, in the report.

The two sides signed a reconciliation agreement April 23, according to which initially Abbas was going to lead an "independent government" of technocrats, preparatory to the holding of long-delayed Palestinian elections.