ismail haniyeh 311.
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
In a move that is likely to deepen divisions in the Palestinian arena, Hamas
announced on Thursday a reshuffle of the cabinet headed by Ismail Haniyeh in the
Fatah dismissed the move as a “ploy” and said that the Hamas
government was “illegitimate” because it had been dismissed by Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
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Abbas recently decided to reshuffle
the West Bankbased cabinet, and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is still conducting
consultations with various groups and individuals over the make-up of his new
The decision to reshuffle the Hamas cabinet came on the eve
of a Facebook campaign by Palestinians to demand an end to the Hamas-Fatah
The campaign organizers have called for mass rallies in the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to pressure Hamas and Fatah into ending their
power struggle and agreeing to the formation of a unity government.
in keeping with the spirit of the current wave of popular uprisings in the Arab
world, Hamas appointed a woman, Jamileh Shanti, as minister for women’s affairs
in the Haniyeh cabinet.
Haniyeh, who will retain his post as prime
minister, also canceled the Ministry of Information, replacing it with a
Government Press Office that would report directly to him.
Shanti is one
of six new ministers who will join the Hamas cabinet.
The other five are:
Saleh al-Raqab, minister for Wakf (Islamic trust) Affairs; Ala al-Rafati,
minister for national economy; Atallah Abu al-Sabah, minister for prisoners
affairs; Muhammad al-Madhoun, minister for sports and youth; and Muhammad Awad,
minister of planning.
Hamas officials denied that the reshuffle had any
political implications and reiterated their readiness to solve the crisis with
Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel said that the move was in the
context of the cabinet’s efforts to improve its “administrative functioning.” He
said it was also aimed at easing the burden on ministers who hold more than one
“The cabinet reshuffle won’t be an obstacle to reconciliation
[with Fatah],” he said. “The division was imposed on the Palestinians by the
occupation, and the Fatah authority in the West Bank helped in
Ismail al-Ashkar, another prominent Hamas figure in the Gaza
Strip, claimed that the new cabinet would facilitate the establishment of a
Palestinian unity government soon.
All the Hamas ministers were
professionals and highly qualified for their jobs, he said.