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Current PM Rami Hamdallah to head new unity govt

May 22, 2014 5:25 P.M. (Updated: May 29, 2014 10:36 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- Palestinian premier Rami Hamdallah is to head the consensus government to be formed under a deal with Hamas to end seven years of rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza, an official said Thursday.

"The government is nearly ready, and Rami Hamdallah will be prime minister," the official close to the reconciliation negotiations told AFP on condition of anonymity.

President Mahmoud Abbas "informed Mr Hamdallah yesterday (Wednesday) that he would head the government," the official said.

Hamdallah is the prime minister of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. Hamas has a rival prime minister in Gaza -- Ismail Haniyeh.

Hamas "had no objection" to the decision, said Bassem Naim, an adviser to Haniyeh.

A senior Fatah official who is the head of the party's reconciliation delegation, Azzam al-Ahmed, is due in Gaza on Sunday to "finalize consultations" on the government, Naim said.

Al-Ahmed told Ma'an that the new government should be ready by the 28th or 29th of the month.

On April 23, Hamas and the PLO, dominated by Abbas' Fatah party, signed a surprise reconciliation deal aimed at forging a unified administration.

Under the deal, the two sides were to form an "independent government" of technocrats, headed by Abbas, paving the way for long-delayed elections.

Hamas has ruled Gaza since it expelled Fatah after a week of deadly clashes in 2007 following elections a year earlier.

The April reconciliation agreement incensed Israel, who ended peace negotiations.

The new government will still need the approval of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament, which was elected in 2006 before the deadly fighting of the following year, Haniyeh said last week.

Both the European Union and the United States have said repeatedly that they will have no dealings with any government that involves Hamas until the group renounces violence and recognizes Israel and past peace agreements.

Israel, meanwhile, has never renounced violence nor recognized Palestine.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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