Current Palestinian Authority 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 Authority 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 Haniya.
Hamas “had no objection” to the decision, said Bassem Naim, an adviser to Haniya.
A senior Fatah official, Azzam al-Ahmed, is due in Gaza on Sunday to “finalize consultations” on the government, Naim said.
Abbas told The Times of Israel on Wednesday that, in talks with Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in London last week, he had stressed that the new Palestinian government would act according to the principles he abides by. He said it was not yet clear whether he would head the new government or whether it would be led by somebody else, such as Hamdallah.
On April 23, Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization, dominated by Abbas’s Fatah party, signed a surprise reconciliation deal aimed at forging a unified administration.
Under the deal, the two sides were to form an “independent government” of technocrats, headed by Abbas, paving the way for long-delayed elections.
Hamas, which does not recognize Israel, has ruled Gaza since it expelled Fatah after a week of deadly clashes in 2007.
The April reconciliation agreement incensed Israel, putting the final nail in the coffin of faltering US-led peace talks.
The new government will still need the approval of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament, which was elected in 2006 before the deadly fighting of the following year, Haniya said last week.
Both the European Union and the United States have said repeatedly that they will have no dealings with any government that involves Hamas until the Islamist group renounces violence and recognizes Israel and past peace agreements.