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Fayyad asks Facebook: Who to be in govt?

Feb. 23, 2011 12:33 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 24, 2011 4:45 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- As young people across the Middle East are using Facebook and Twitter to bring down governments, appointed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has asked his followers on both sites to help put one together.

"In the light of the ongoing consultations aiming to form a government list, which people do you consider credible, have excellent leadership and scientific skills, and can be reliable to hold a ministerial portfolio," Fayyad asked on his Facebook page shortly before noon on Wednesday.

Fayyad, or those who administer his social networking page, asked followers and friends to nominate people by name, and suggest the field they would be most competent to run.

Responses were instant.

"Unbelievable!! I don't believe that this page is for the Prime Minister and simply consulting people!" one of the first commenters remarked.

But there followed an immediate flood of recommendations, most suggesting new and in some cases local youth leaders in both the West Bank and Gaza to take spots in the government cabinet Fayyad was charged with cobbling together. In the first hours of the posting, no one person had been nominated by more than two people.

Some suggestions included:

Ismail Deik - Minister of Agriculture - from Jericho

Sami Awad - Minister of Tourism - from Bethlehem

Palestinian businessman Ibrahim Barham - Minister of National Economy - from Ramallah

While another was more direct: "I'm a student at Beir Zeit University, I live in Ramallah, and am completely ready to fill any position."

Earnest suggestions came from all corners, with one woman suggesting "there's a person in Nablus who went to the ministry with a plan to build an airport in Nablus. He maybe a suitable person."

Charged with assembling a new cabinet when the last appointed government handed in its resignation on Feb. 14, Fayyad has been reportedly engaged in extensive consultations with civil society groups, and according to news reports, has also been in contact with Hamas officials, in the hopes that the new cabinet can bring off a national vote in September.

Speaking to Palestinian journalists late Monday, Fayyad confirmed that he had proposed a unity government, based on a "security concept" applied by Hamas in Gaza, where the group has sought to enforce a ceasefire with Israel. Fayyad said the concept could provide common ground.

"The security concept practiced by Hamas in the Gaza Strip should be brought under an official framework because it is not different from what is practiced by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank," Fayyad said.

"After a national unity government is formed, it can take on the task of supervising a security agreement based on the institutions in place in the West Bank and Gaza."

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