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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hamas, Fatah still arguing over prime minister

Here's the latest in the Hamas/Fatah soap opera on forming a "unity" government:

From Ma'an on Monday:
Disagreement over who should be the next Palestinian premier is holding up the creation of a unity government agreed last month between old rivals Fatah and Hamas, Palestinian officials said on Monday.

A meeting in Cairo on Tuesday between President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah, and Hamas chief Khalid Mash'al has been postponed due to Hamas opposition to the reappointment of Western-backed economist Salam Fayyad, they said.

"The real reason for the delay in the forming and convening of the government is disagreement over Fayyad," an official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"President Abbas insists on nominating Salam Fayyad, whose appointment Hamas categorically rejects," he added. "That has led the two sides to postpone the meeting rather than announce the collapse of the reconciliation."

"Fayyad is not wanted because his name is linked to Palestinian division, the debt-ridden Palestinian economy and operations by the [Palestinian Authority] security services against the resistance," Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Radwan said, referring to the group's armed campaign against Israel.

Ma'an also quoted "sources" as saying Fayyad would refuse the post if offered in the interests of unity, but that is unclear. We'll see later today as Palestine Today reports that Fayyad will officially withdraw his name from consideration as PM.

Last night, Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech where he said that he is the president of the PA and as president he can choose whomever he wants to be PM - and he chooses Fayyad.

A Hamas spokesman rejected Abbas' words and said that his statement was harmful to national reconciliation.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar also commented saying that "It is a government of national consensus and not the government of Abu Mazen, therefore, the name of head of government must be agreed upon by the two movements."

The planned meeting this week in Cairo has been postponed indefinitely. Zahar claims that this is due to pressure from Western governments on Abbas not to follow through on reconciliation with Hamas.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Arabs prefer Fayyad to remain as PM, according to a new poll.