Abbas to swear in new cabinet 7Jun13 June 7, 2013

Ma’an News Agency    -    6 June 2013
221816_345x230BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas will swear in a new Palestinian Authority cabinet in Ramallah on Thursday, expected to include at least seven new ministers.

Incoming Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will appoint new ministers to the finance, health, education, social affairs, culture, environment and local governance ministries, government sources told Ma’an.

Hamdallah is expected to appoint Shukri Bishara to head the finance ministry, a post held by outgoing Prime Minister Salam Fayyad who resigned from government duties in April after months of tension with Abbas.

Fayyad’s local governance minister Khaled Qawasmeh will be replaced by Issam Aqel, ministry sources told Ma’an, adding that Qawasmeh would refuse to serve in the new government because of the loss of his ministerial portfolio.

Kamal al-Sharafati is tipped to replace Majida al-Masri as minister of social affairs.

President Mahmoud Abbas will swear in the new 24-member cabinet at 7 p.m.

Hamdallah, an independent who is considered close to the Fatah faction, said Wednesday that most ministers in the existing cabinet would retain their posts.

“Consultations are in the final stage and hopefully we will announce the new government on Thursday evening,” Hamdallah told Voice of Palestine radio.

“We agreed with the president that most ministers would remain in place,” said Hamdallah, who was appointed on Sunday by the president as Fayyad’s term as caretaker prime minister expired.

Hamdallah reiterated that his government would rule only for “a transitional period” until formation of a unity government comprising Abbas’s Fatah faction and the rival Hamas movement.

Such a coalition is laid out in as-yet unfulfilled unity agreements signed in Cairo in 2011 and in Doha the following year.

At a meeting in Cairo on May 14, Abbas and Hamas set a three-month timeframe to implement key provisions of the 2011 agreement.

“Let’s be optimists and hope that we can achieve a unity government on 14 August, and I will do everything in my power to do so,” Hamdallah said.

“I ask all Palestinian factions to work together to end this sad situation of division.”

“The (new) government will not necessarily have the same policy as the previous one,” he said, adding that after unveiling it he would hold a press conference on its “policy on all issues concerning Palestinian citizens.”

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