Top ministers in PA unity coalition

March 18, 2007 01:55
2 minute read.


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The top ministers in the incoming Palestinian coalition government:

  • Ismail Haniyeh, 47, of Hamas is the designated prime minister. Born in Gaza's Shati refugee camp, he graduated from Gaza City's Islamic University in 1987 with a degree in Arabic literature and became a close associate of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin. In 1998, he took charge of Yassin's office, then rose to prominence after Israel's 2004 targeted killings of Yassin and Yassin's successor, Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Haniyeh remains extremely popular with the Palestinian public, partly because he still lives in a refugee camp.
  • Azzam al-Ahmed, 59, is the designated deputy prime minister. The chief of Fatah's parliament bloc, Ahmed is a combative legislator known for sparring with his Hamas colleagues. He grew up in the West Bank and in Jordan, and earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Baghdad University. Ahmed served as the PLO ambassador to Iraq from 1979 to 1994. Loyal to the late Yasser Arafat, he rose through the ranks of Fatah, joining a key leadership body, the Revolutionary Council, in 1989. He was first elected to parliament in 1996 and won re-election a decade later, one of the few Fatah lawmakers to survive a public backlash against the party's corruption and mismanagement. Ahmed served as a cabinet minister in several PA governments.
  • Ziad Abu Amr, 56, is the designated foreign minister. He is a US-educated political scientist with a doctorate from Georgetown University. A former college professor, Abu Amr has been elected to parliament twice as an independent, although he was supported by Hamas in last year's legislative vote. He has frequently served as a mediator between Hamas and Fatah, and served as a cabinet minister in 2003. He lives in Gaza City.
  • Salaam Fayad, 54, is the designated finance minister. The internationally respected economist is considered the Palestinians' best hope for persuading the West to end economic sanctions against their government. Fayad previously held the finance post, earning the trust of the international community by curbing Arafat's freewheeling spending and cracking down on corruption. Fayad, who was born in the West Bank, holds a doctorate from the University of Texas and is a former International Monetary Fund official. He lived in the US for 15 years.
  • Hani Kawasmi, 52, is the designated interior minister, a sensitive position that oversees several security services. He is a seasoned bureaucrat and a devout Muslim who is seen as a key link between Hamas and Fatah. He is scion of a prominent West Bank family that moved to Gaza 20 years ago, and the nephew of a PLO official who was assassinated in Jordan by unknown assailants in the mid-1980s. Kawasmi has never been a member of any political party but is considered to have good relations with all of them. He was an administrator at Gaza's Islamic University, a Hamas stronghold, before taking a senior post in the Interior Ministry.

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