Hamas, Fatah reach deal on makeup of unity government

Ramallah official refuses to confirm report Fayyad won’t serve in next gov't; Fatah fears PA leadership without him will lead West to suspend aid.

PA President Abbas with Hamas PM Haniyeh 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)
PA President Abbas with Hamas PM Haniyeh 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)
Hamas and Fatah have reached an agreement over the composition of a unity government, Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Fatah negotiating team with Hamas, announced late on Tuesday.
The announcement came at the conclusion of another round of talks between Hamas and Fatah representatives in Cairo, who met to discuss the implementation of their Egyptian- brokered reconciliation agreement.
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Ahmed said the new government would be announced in Cairo next week during a meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.
He added that the two parties still had not agreed on who would be prime minister.
Ahmed would neither confirm nor deny a report on Al- Jazeera that claimed Fatah and Hamas had agreed that incumbent Prime Minister Salam Fayyad would be left out of the new government.
“We don’t want to talk about excluding anyone,” the Fatah official said. “But we agreed that there would be conformity on this issue. So far there no conformity on the issue of the prime minister.”
Asked about Hamas’s demand that the prime minister be from the Gaza Strip, Ahmed said: “We are searching for a Palestinian prime minister, and not a prime minister from South Africa or any other country. It’s not important if the prime minister is from this city or that.”
According to the Al-Jazeera report, Hamas and Fatah have in fact agreed on a prime minister, but have decided not name him for now. Fayyad would not be part of the unity government, the report said.
Earlier this week, the Fatah Central Committee voted to nominate Fayyad to continue as prime minister – a proposal that was immediately rejected by Hamas.
Ezzat Risheq, a senior Damascus-based Hamas official, said that during the Cairo discussions on Tuesday, his movement reiterated fierce opposition to the appointment of Fayyad as head of a unity government.
Fatah leaders expressed fear that the exclusion of Fayyad from the new government would prompt the US and EU donor countries to suspend financial aid to the Palestinians.
Sources in the Gaza Strip claimed that Muhammad Mustafa, economic adviser to Abbas, was a leading candidate to head the unity government, which would consist of independent technocrats.