New Palestinian Government to Be Declared Within Weeks, Officials Say

Prime Minister Hamdallah expected to step down, new cabinet to be announced less than a month before rival Palestinian factions set to meet in Moscow

Jack Khoury
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File photo: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gives a speech in the the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 11, 2018.
File photo: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gives a speech in the the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 11, 2018.Credit: ABBAS MOMANI / AFP
Jack Khoury

A new Palestinian government will be declared in Ramallah sometime in the next two weeks, senior Palestinian officials told Haaretz this weekend.

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According to these officials, President Mahmoud Abbas has asked members of the Fatah Central Committee to contact members of other political factions and parties, such as the Democratic Alliance, the Palestinian National Initiative and others to see if they would be part of the new government.

It is not yet clear which senior cabinet ministers will be replaced, but sources in Ramallah say Rami Hamdallah is likely to exit his role as prime minister.

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Among the frontrunners for the job are thought to be Fatah Central Committee member Mohammad Shtayyeh, Civil Affairs Minister Hussein Sheikh, and PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Saeb Erekat. All three are veteran members of Fatah. Another figure believed to be a strong candidate is Mohammad Mustafa, the chairman of the Palestine Investment Fund, who is seen as close to Abbas.

Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad said Saturday evening that the current Palestinian government has reached the end of the road and that meetings on the formation of a new cabinet are ongoing, both within Fatah and other parties.

The talks are being held only a few weeks ahead of a planned meeting in Moscow between different Palestinian political factions, including Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, scheduled for February 13.

In 2007, a year after winning parliamentary elections, Hamas drove out the Western-backed Palestinian Authority from Gaza and took over the coastal enclave.

Russia has hosted several rounds of talks aimed at forging reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah party.

There has long been antipathy between Hamas, which is opposed to any peace negotiations with Israel, and with Abbas’s more moderate and secular Fatah faction. The two rivals have tried and failed to end the divisions. 

AP and Reuters contributed background to this article.