(photo credit: AP)
Hamas officials told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday that the new cabinet, which consists mostly of technocrats and academics, was chosen by the movement's Shura Council - the same body that handpicked its candidates for the January 25 parliamentary election.
Shura is an Arabic word for consultation. It is believed to be the method by which pre-Islamic Arabian tribes selected leaders and made major decisions. Sunni Muslims believe that Islam requires all decisions made by and for the Muslim community to be made by a Shura Council. To some, this means that Islam enjoins representative democracy.
Shura is recommended in the Koran and by numerous hadiths, or oral traditions of the sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions. The first four caliphs, or successors to Muhammad, were chosen by the same method.
Sources close to Hamas revealed on Saturday the names of some of the new ministers. The new lineup includes five professors from an-Najah University in Nablus and a number of independent academics closely associated with the Islamic movement.
None of the ministers are known to have taken an active role in terror attacks on Israel. Mazen Sinokrot is the only minister from the outgoing cabinet who is scheduled to remain in his position.
Omar Abdel Razek, who is tapped for the Finance Ministry portfolio, was released last week after three months in an Israeli prison. The US-educated professor, who was born in the town of Salfit near Nablus, is a specialist in international economy.
Mahmoud Zahar, who is expected to serve as foreign minister, is the overall leader of Hamas. Born to a Palestinian father and an Egyptian mother, Zahar was raised in the Egyptian city of Ismailiyeh before his family moved to the Gaza Strip. He studied medicine in Cairo and has worked as a physician in a number of hospitals in Khan Yunis and Gaza City.
The sources said Hamas would keep the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of some of the security forces. Said Siam, a pragmatic member of Hamas's political bureau, will become the next interior minister. Siam, according to the sources, was chosen because of his good relations with all the Palestinian factions, including Fatah.
The Palestinian security forces consist solely of Fatah members whose commanders have repeatedly warned that they would not take orders from a Hamas interior minister. However, Siam is someone that many Fatah security officials would be prepared to deal with.