Fatah and Hamas on Thursday moved a step close toward implementing the reconciliation agreement they signed last month as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked his prime minister in the West Bank to head a Palestinian unity government.
Abbas entrusted Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah with forming a national consensus government, according to a Palestinian official in Ramallah.
The official said that Abbas asked Hamdallah to form a new transitional government and wished him success in his mission.
The move came as Abbas received a message from US President Barack Obama affirming US support for the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel.
The Ma’an news agency quoted Obama as stressing Washington’s commitment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
A Palestinian source in Ramallah said that the new unity government could be announced next week.
Abbas was supposed to announce the new government on Thursday, but differences between Fatah and Hamas led to the postponement of the announcement, the source said.
On Thursday, representatives of the two rival parties held discussions and consultations in a bid to remove the obstacles facing the proposed unity government.
The two sides have yet to reach agreement on the Foreign Affairs and Interior portfolios in the unity government, the source added.
Moreover, Abbas’s insistence on keeping Minister for Religious Affairs Mahmoud Habbash in the government has prevented the two sides from reaching agreement on the make-up of the government.
Abbas’s decision to entrust Hamdallah with the task of forming a unity government is seen as a way to avoid the crisis with Hamas over the line-up.
In Gaza City, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that the reconciliation with Fatah would not become an alternative to “resistance” against Israel.
Haniyeh said that the deal would allow Hamas to hold on to its weapons “and defend the unity of our people in the face of occupation.”
Haniyeh told reporters that the “resistance that liberated the Gaza Strip is also capable of liberating the West Bank, Jerusalem and the rest of our land.”