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PA announces government reshuffle, Hamas calls move a 'coup'

July 30, 2015 6:11 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 27, 2015 8:37 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority on Thursday announced that a long awaited reshuffle of the Palestinian cabinet had been agreed upon, Palestinian officials told Ma'an.

Hussein al-Araj, formerly the Deputy Minister of Local Governance and Governor of Nablus and Hebron, will serve as the Minister of Local Governance, sources said.

Sabri Saydam will serve as the Minister of Education. He formerly served as the Minister of Communications and Information Technology.

Former Minister of Public Works, Deputy Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, and representative of The Palestine Investment Fund, Samih al-Abed, will become the Minister of Transportation.

Sufian Sultan, the former head of the Palestinian Environmental Authority -- which was later merged, in part, into the Ministry of Agriculture -- will serve as the Minister of Agriculture, whileAbeer Odeh will serve as the Minister of National Economy.

Odeh served as the CEO of Palestine Capital Market Authority, a governmental financial institution.

The new ministers will be sworn-in on Friday after prayers in the Palestinian Presidential headquarters in Ramallah.

There had been talk of a reshuffle for months, but in mid-June it was announced at a Fatah council meeting that the entire government would soon be dissolved.

The reshuffle is an attempt to preserve and reform the body, instead of dismantling it.

The unity government was formed in June 2014 in a bid to end division between the Fatah-led PLO and Hamas, but has so far been unsuccessful in doing so.

The Hamas movement said Thursday that it disapproved of the unity government's reshuffle and called the move “unconstitutional and outside consensus.”

Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri, added that the reshuffle represents a coup on the unity deal and said that the PA has become a separatist government.

Officials told Ma'an in June that Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah's resignation was an imminent part of the reshuffle, but it has yet to officially materialize.

Hamdallah also serves as the Minister of Interior.

The other 19 ministry positions have remained unchanged. Currently, four ministers hold positions as heads of up to three different ministries.

Attempts for reform came after the unity government formed in June last year repeatedly failed to overcome divisive issues between Fatah and Hamas.

Power has remained divided between the Hamas-led Gaza Strip and Fatah-dominated West Bank since 2007.
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