Palestinian unity government to be unveiled Monday: Abbas

Palestinian unity government to be unveiled Monday: Abbas
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (right) meeting with Palestinian premier Rami Hamdallah in the West Bank city of Ramallah to hand over an agreement for Hamdallah to head the consensus government to be to be formed under a deal with Hamas to end seven years of rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza.

RAMALLAH - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said the line-up of a unity government will be announced on Monday, after a delay over who will head the foreign ministry.

Islamists Hamas and the Western-backed Palestine Liberation Organisation, which is dominated by Abbas's secular Fatah party, signed a surprise reconciliation agreement in April to end years of rivalry.

Under the deal, the sides are to work to form an "independent government" of technocrats, paving the way for long-delayed elections.

"The unity government comprising technocrats and independents will be revealed on Monday," Mr Abbas said on Saturday during a visit by a French delegation to his Ramallah headquarters on the West Bank.

On Thursday, Mr Abbas chose Rami Hamdallah as prime minister and it had been expected that the rest of the lineup would be unveiled on the same day.

But a Palestinian official had told AFP on condition of anonymity that both Hamas and Fatah had rejected Mr Abbas's choice of foreign minister.

Mr Abbas, he said, was insisting on giving the portfolio to Riyad al-Maliki, a veteran diplomat who has served as foreign minister since 2007.

A source close to Hamas said the Islamist movement wanted the post to be held by Ziad Abu Amr, one of two deputy prime ministers.

But on Saturday Abbas said the ministers in the new line-up "will not be from Fatah or from Hamas." He also added that Israel informed the Palestinians it will "boycott the government".

"Israel wants to punish us because we have agreed with Hamas on this government," he said.

The agreement between the two sides gave them five weeks to set up a unity government which was to have been announced by May 28.


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