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New ministers sworn in following reshuffle announcement

July 31, 2015 7:30 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 28, 2015 5:26 P.M.)
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah gestures during an interview at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on September 7, 2014 (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Five new ministers in the Palestinian cabinet were sworn in on Friday at the President's headquarters in Ramallah with the presence of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

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, while Abeer Odeh will serve as the Minister of National Economy.

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

The swearing-in ceremony was done without media coverage out of respect to the Palestinian infant who was killed when suspected Israeli settlers torched a family home on Friday, leaving the child's mother and father in a critical condition.

The new ministry positions were announced on Thursday.

There had been talk of a government 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 alleged attempt to preserve and reform the unity government, instead of dissolving 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.
Comments
Legal Eagle / Australia
This government has ZERO legitimacy
31/07/2015 23:14
Outlier / USA
Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
31/07/2015 23:31
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