Abbas expected to tap Fatah ally as next PM — officials

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to appoint long-time ally Mohammad Shtayyeh as prime minister in the next few days after backing by his Fatah party, senior officials say.

Analysts view bringing in Shtayyeh to replace outgoing Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah as part of Abbas’s efforts to further isolate his political rivals Hamas, who run the Gaza Strip.

The central committee of Fatah backed Shtayyeh to take over the post during a meeting earlier this week, the senior officials say on condition of anonymity.

The recommendation is not binding on Abbas, but he is expected to back the decision, the officials say.

Shtayyeh, born in 1958, is a long-term Abbas ally and member of the Fatah central committee.

He would replace Hamdallah, who was politically independent.

Shtayyeh has been part of a number of Palestinian negotiating teams in US-brokered talks with Israel, and is a former government minister.

He is also an academic and economics professor.

Hamdallah’s government submitted its resignation in late January, though it has continued on an interim basis.

Secularist Abbas remains the primary decision-maker and interlocutor with the international community.

— AFP

Palestinian negotiator Mohammad Shtayeh, June 2011. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

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