Two weeks before the deadline given to Hamas for forming a new Palestinian government, the organization's leader and prime minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh presented his cabinet roster in Gaza on Sunday to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Haniyeh in Gaza (Photo: Reuters)
The government formed by Hamas will be comprised of group members and 'technocrats' that will offer consultation to the new ministers, but no other faction in the Palestinian parliament is expected to join.
Haniyeh said the cabinet will include 24 ministers, among them a Christian and a woman. Ten would-be ministers are from Gaza, while the rest hail from the West Bank.
“The Palestinian Authority is moving towards constitutional stability,” he said, adding that the government will work in full cooperation Abbas.
Mahmoud al-Zahar is set to be named foreign minister, Said Siam is the designated interior minister, and Omar Abed el-Radek, who was released from an Israeli prison only a few days ago, is slated for the post of finance minister.
Haniyeh (left) with Abbas in Gaza (Photo: AFP)
Haniyeh said he hopes the Hamas government will be successful in improving the Palestinians’ lives “while preserving our principles in an effort relieve the suffering of the Palestinian nation.”
The prime minister-designate did not forget to send a warm greeting to the ‘shahids’ (martyrs), the Palestinian prisoners and those wounded during the intifada.
Abbas, for his part, said “I pray to God to help us. The Task is not easy, neither for us nor the new government. There are great difficulties and obstacles ahead, but with the determination and the support of our people, thing will move ahead.”
Haniyeh admitted prior to the meeting that the new government was not the one Hamas had hoped for, as its members wanted the new cabinet to include as many factions as possible. He added that Hamas would welcome other Palestinian organizations that will ask to join the government.
As late as Saturday Hamas still 'left the door open' for the joining of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) members, but they declined.
It remains unclear whether Abbas will authorize the forming of the new government as he is opposed to the basic principles presented by Hamas, and the changes he has demanded have not been carried out.
Abbas and Hamas are mainly at odds regarding past agreements with Israel. It is estimated that the PA chairman will eventually approve the cabinet following the Israeli elections on March 28.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told 132 senior security officials from the U.S. and Canada attending a homeland security conference in Jerusalem: "This is the moment which the international community should send a clear and resolute message to the Palestinian Authority. Lately, seemingly moderate statements were heard from the PA’s direction, but they're not as they appear."
Hamas is a terror organization just like any other, she added.
Roee Nahmias contributed to the report