Hamas okays Rami Hamdallah as unity government PM

Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh declares that armed struggle will not end with new leadership

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (photo credit: CC BY Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äusseres/Flickr)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (photo credit: CC BY Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äusseres/Flickr)

Hamas has agreed to maintain Rami Hamdallah as prime minister of the new unity government to be announced by Thursday, a message on the Islamic organization’s website read. At the same time the Islamic extremist group’s Gaza leader made clear that Hamas was not abandoning its armed struggle against Israel, despite the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal.

Hamdallah, an academic who served as president of An-Najjah University in Nablus, was appointed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2013 to succeed Salam Fayyad, a political independent trusted by the West.

The agreement between Fatah and Hamas on Hamdallah and a number of other independent ministers was reached Monday night, said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. The final makeup of the government will be announced by Thursday, a Fatah official said, approximately a month after a unity deal between the two rival Palestinian movements was ratified on April 23.

“We have finished consultations on the national consensus government,” Azzam al-Ahmed, an envoy from PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, told AFP on Tuesday after talks in Gaza with its Hamas rulers.

“The announcement will come from the president in the next two days.”

Ma’an, an independent Palestinian news agency, reported that Hamdallah will likely also serve as minister of the interior, with current Finance Minister Shukri Bishara remaining in his position. The identity of foreign minister has not yet been finalized, Ma’an added, but it may be filled by former foreign minister Ziad Abu Amr or current minister Riyad Al-Maliki.

Azzam Al-Ahmad (photo credit: AP/Amr Nabil/File)
Azzam Al-Ahmad (photo credit: AP/Amr Nabil/File)

Al-Ahmad arrived in Gaza Monday to finalize the makeup of the unity government, tasked with preparing the ground for general elections in Gaza and the West Bank by the end of the year.

Ahmad told Ma’an that his meetings with Hamas revolve solely around the date for elections and the tasks of government, stressing that he has not discussed the security issue, which is considered a point of contention between the two movements.

Meanwhile, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said on Tuesday that Hamas’s agreement to join the unity government did not mean the end of the armed struggle against Israel.

“Palestinian reconciliation will never be an alternative to the resistance and our principles,” Haniyeh told Hamas daily Al-Resalah. “Our leaving the government does not mean leaving governance.”

AFP contributed to this report.

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