The new Palestinian Authority government was sworn in on Saturday in a ceremony held in Ramallah in the presence of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Headed by Mohammed Shtayyeh, member of the Fatah Central Committee, the 23-member government includes 16 new ministers. This is the 18th Palestinian government since the establishment of the PA in 2004.
Five ministers who served in the previous government, headed by Rami Hamdallah, have retained their jobs. They include PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki and PA Finance Minister Shukri Bishara.
The government includes three women: Mai Salim al-Kila (health minister), Amal Hamad (women’s affairs minister) and Roula Mayaya (tourism and antiquities minister).
In addition, the following ministers from the Gaza Strip have joined the Shtayyeh government: Ziad Abu Amr (deputy prime minister), Amal Hamad, Atef Abu Seif (culture minister) and Osama al-Sa’dawi (leadership and empowerment minister).
Fadi al-Hidmi, the former head of the east Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was appointed Jerusalem affairs minister. He is the only minister from east Jerusalem.
In addition to Fatah, three other small Palestinian factions are represented in the Shtayyeh government: The Palestinian People’s Party (formerly the Palestinian Communist Party); the Palestinian Democratic Union, also known as FIDA (a political party that is part of the PLO); and the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front.
The remaining major factions, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, refused to join the government.
Most of the newly appointed ministers are academics, economic and legal experts, engineers, professional union leaders and university professors.
Hamas criticized the formation of the government, calling it a “continuation of Fatah’s policy of exclusivity and exclusion.”
In a statement issued in the Gaza shortly after the government was sworn in, Hamas said the move would “solidify the divide” between the West Bank and Gaza Strip “in order to serve the interests and desires of Fatah at the expense of the interests of the Palestinian people, their unity, sacrifices and struggles.”
The Shtayyeh government has no national and constitutional legitimacy, Hamas added. It said the formation of the government will “enhance the chances of separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip in a practical step toward the implementation of [US President Donald Trump’s] ‘deal of the century.’”
The former premier, Hamdallah, submitted his resignation in January after Fatah leaders called on Abbas to form a new government consisting of Fatah representatives and independent figures. Hamdallah, who previously served as president of An-Najah University in Nablus, did not hold any position in Fatah, although he is said to be affiliated with the faction.
Besides Shtayyeh, the only Fatah representatives in the government are: Nabil Abu Rudaineh, who retained his job as deputy prime minister; Atef Abu Seif, Fatah’s spokesman in the Gaza Strip, who was recently reported to have been badly beaten by unknown assailants there; and Amal Hamad, the women’s affairs minister.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov welcomed the formation of the government and said he was looking forward to continue working closely with Shtayyeh and his team on improving the Palestinians’ economic, humanitarian and social situation.
“At a time of significant financial and political challenges to the Palestinian national project, all must support the government’s efforts and work to overcome internal divisions,” Mladenov said. “Unity is essential to advancing the goal of a lasting peace. Elections, conducted in line with national laws and established international democratic standards, can contribute to advancing reconciliation.”
The UN, he added, “remains fully committed to working with the Palestinian leadership and people in ending the occupation and advancing their legitimate national aspirations for statehood based on UN resolutions.”