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Shaath: New government within 10 days

May 10, 2011 10:09 A.M. (Updated: May 12, 2011 1:15 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A new government will be formed in 10 days, a top member of the ruling party in Ramallah said Tuesday.

Fatah leader Nabil Shaath said the prime minister had not yet been announced, and he did not rule out Salam Fayyad.

Shaath told Ma'an that the US and EU were pressing Israel to release Palestinian Authority tax revenue, which was frozen when Hamas and Fatah signed a unity agreement this month in the Egyptian capital.

"We don't have financial reserves and the PA is in debt. It doesn't have the ability to remain stable for a month or two without reserves," Shaath said underscoring the risk to government employees.

The only regular payments to the PA from Arab countries are $7.7 million per month from Saudi Arabia and $4 million per month from the United Arab Emirates, Shaath noted.

In a unity deal signed in Cairo last week, Palestinian factions agreed to form an interim government to prepare for national elections.

The reconciliation agreement ended rivalry between Hamas and Fatah, which in 2007 had led to the parties heading separate governments in Gaza and the West Bank respectively.

Fatah leader Hussam Khader said the interim government should be headed by Salam Fayyad, who has been the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank since 2007.

Fayyad should head the new government because of the success of his state-building plan, launched in 2009 and scheduled to be completed in August, Khader said.

Fayyad's plan, "Ending the Occupation, Establishing a State," has focused on building institutions necessary for statehood. It has received widespread support from the international community.

Khader said the program had improved the infrastructure of institutions and reduced administrative and financial corruption in the West Bank.

The Fatah official urged Hamas not to oppose the appointment of Fayyad, and said he hoped the Islamist movement would abandon the idea that the PA premier was "America's man."

Hamas would likely oppose Fayyad's appointment on the grounds of his government's oppression of the movement in the West Bank and the PA's security collaboration with Israel.

However, it would be a popular move with the international community, which has praised Fayyad's achievements as prime minister, particularly his handling of the PA's finances.

French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero recently noted Fayyad's accomplishments when he criticized Israel's refusal to transfer Palestinian tax revenue to the PA over its unity with Hamas.

"We consider that the current Palestinian government, under the leadership of Salam Fayyad, has presented all the necessary guarantees of transparency in public finances and good use of international aid," Valero said.

He added: "We expect that any future Palestinian government will maintain these guarantees."
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