Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is facing pressure from his ruling Fatah faction to form a new PA government, a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah confirmed on Saturday.
“We believe that the new government should consist of members of the Fatah Central Committee, as well as representatives of other PLO factions,” the official said.
The present Ramallah-based government, headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, is called the Palestinian National Consensus Government. It was formed in accordance with the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement that was signed in the Gaza Strip in April 2014.
Although it is also referred to as the Palestinian National Unity Government, it does not include any representative of Hamas.
Sources in Ramallah said over the weekend that Fatah leaders are particularly interested in removing Hamdallah from his post. Although Hamdallah, who previously served as president of An-Najah University in Nablus, is affiliated with Fatah, he does not hold any official position in the faction.
Informed sources told the Palestinian news agency Safa that PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, who is also a member of the Fatah Central Committee, is the strongest candidate touted to succeed Hamdallah.
Abbas and Fatah leaders have reached agreement on the appointment of Erekat as prime minster, the sources said. Erekat, they added, will head a transitional government until new elections are held for the PA presidency and parliament.
Azzam al-Ahmed, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said on Saturday that a decision has been taken to replace the Hamdallah government.
In an interview with a Ramallah- based radio station, Ahmed said that negotiations were under way to form a new government that would consist of various PLO factions in the coming days. Hamas, which is not part of the PLO, will not be represented in the new government, he said.
The Fatah official pointed out that the Palestinian National Consensus Government was established following a deal with Hamas to end the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, since Fatah and Hamas have failed to implement the deal, there is no justification for the existence of this government, he explained.
Ahmed said that he recently visited Syria, where he discussed with leaders of the PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine the issue of the formation of a new government. The two PLO groups are opposed to the Oslo Accords that were signed between Israel and the PLO.
“There can be no national unity government with Hamas before ending the division,” Ahmed said. “Fatah has taken a decision that it should have a strong representation in a new government. The new government will be formed soon.”
Fatah, he added, has not given up on the possibility of ending its dispute with Hamas. Russia has invited representatives of the two parties to Moscow next month for talks on ways of ending the Hamas-Fatah rift, Ahmed said.