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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas names ally as new PM

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has appointed long-time ally Mohammad Shtayyeh as prime minister, according to officials.

Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Abbas received Shtayyeh, a member of the central committee of the president’s Fatah party, at his office on Sunday and asked him to form a new government, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Some analysts view appointing 61-year-old Shtayyeh to replace outgoing Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah as part of Abbas’s efforts to further isolate Hamas, a rival political group that runs the besieged Gaza Strip.

The previous government was formed during a period of improved relations between the two most dominant parties in the Palestinian political scene.

The new administration is expected to be dominated by Fatah, though other smaller parties will be represented.

Hamas, which will not be included, said the appointment reflected “Abbas’s unilateralism and monopoly of power”.

“Hamas stresses that it does not recognise this separatist government because it was formed without national consensus,” spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.

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

No public successor
Hamdallah’s government submitted its resignation in late January, though it has continued on an interim basis.

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

Hamas has been the de facto ruler in the Gaza Strip since 2007, after defeating the Fatah party in parliamentary elections. It then pushed Fatah out of Gaza when the latter refused to recognise the result of the vote.

Since then Abbas’s governments have maintained limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank.

Abbas has recently been in conflict with US President Donald Trump’s administration, which is expected to release its long-awaited peace plan in the coming months.

Abbas froze ties with the White House after Trump declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

Trump has since taken a series of steps against the Palestinians, including cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.

Palestinian leaders call it an attempt to blackmail them into accepting a plan that they believe will destroy their hopes for independent statehood. They view Trump’s administration as blatantly biased in favour of Israel.

Abbas won a four-year term as president in 2005, but he has since remained in office without further elections.

The 83-year-old who has recently had health issues has not publicly lined up a successor and the move to name Shtayyeh could put him among the potential candidates.

Others mentioned as possible successors include veteran leader Mahmoud al-Aloul, Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary General Saeb Erekat, senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub and head of Palestinian intelligence Majid Faraj.

Polls show the most popular Palestinian leader is Marwan Barghouti, but he is serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail for allegedly organising and authorising a series of killings of Israelis.

[Source: Al Jazeera]
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