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Hamas: Delay in unity government due to foreign and detainees ministry

May 29, 2014 10:29 P.M. (Updated: May 31, 2014 9:31 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Thursday evening that the delay in announcing the unity government is being caused by a dispute over the appointment of the ministers of foreign and detainees' affairs.

Abu Zuhri said that despite the fact that Hamas and the PLO had agreed on the majority of cabinet positions in the national unity government they are currently forming, a dispute remains regarding the appointment of Riyadh al-Malki as minister of foreign affairs.

Abbas has insisted on al-Malki's appointment to the position, but a source close to Hamas earlier said that the movement wanted the post to be held by Ziyad Abu Amer, one of two deputy premiers currently serving under Hamdallah.

Abu Zuhri said that President Abbas' desire to replace the ministry of detainees with an independent body was also causing hold-ups in the commissions work.

Abu Zuhri said in a post on his Facebook page that Hamas had rejected the dissolution of the ministry of detainees' affairs, which oversees the issue of more than 5,000 Palestinians currently being held in Israeli jails as well as the tens of thousands prisoners who have been released, for "nationalistic" reasons, without elaborating.

Earlier, a senior Fatah official had said that the national coalition government would be formed within "hours," but Abu Zuhri had insisted it could potentially take days instead.

Also on Thursday, Abbas announced that current premier Rami Hamdallah would serve as the prime minister in the national unity government, which when announced will end seven years of political division between the largest Palestinian parties.

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