A new Palestinian Authority cabinet headed by Salam Fayyad was sworn in before President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, ending any chances of forming a Fatah- Hamas unity government.

Last week, Abbas entrusted Fayyad with forming a new cabinet until circumstances allow the formation of a coalition with Hamas, as agreed in the Doha Accord that Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal signed last February.

The two sides failed to implement the Doha Accord, mainly due to strong opposition inside Hamas.

The Finance portfolio, which Fayyad had held since 2007, will now be in the hands of Nabil Qassis, a former president of Bir Zeit University near Ramallah.

The new cabinet consists of representatives of Fatah, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian Democratic Union, as well as independent figures.

It includes six female ministers – the largest number of women to serve in a PA cabinet.

The women are: Safa Nasser Eddin, communications minister; Rabiha Diab, women’s affairs minister; Siham Barghouti, culture minister; Majeda al-Masri, social welfare minister; Rula Ma’ya’a, tourism minister; and Lamis al-Alami, education minister.

Adnan Husseini, the former director of the Wakf Muslim religious trust in Jerusalem, was named as Jerusalem affairs minister.

Ali Muhana, former head of the Bar Association in the West Bank, was appointed justice minister. Hani Abdeen replaced Fathi Abu Mughli as health minister.

Bassam Zakarneh, head of the Palestinian union of public employees, strongly criticized the new cabinet, calling it “ugly.”

“Adding flowers to the body of an ugly woman won’t change her ugliness,” Zakarneh said.

He said that the union was planning a one-hour strike on Thursday to protest against the new government and its policies, especially in the economic arena.

Hamas said the new cabinet would solidify divisions among the Palestinians.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the Fayyad government had never been the choice of the Palestinians, especially in light of the fact that it was not approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Barhoum accused Abbas of bypassing the Doha Accord with Hamas by forming a new cabinet without the Islamist movement.

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