Ma'an News Agency
May 19, 2009 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a replacement caretaker government on Tuesday evening, with Salam Fayyad to stay on as prime minister.

The parliament bloc of Abbas' own Fatah movement said it would refuse to support the new government, though two Fatah-lawmakers were sworn in Tuesday. Two other Fatah-affiliated lawmakers tapped for the new government, Rabiha Diab and Issa Qaraqe refused Abbas offer to join the government.

Fatah Deputy Ashraf Jum'a confirmed his party would boycott Fayyad's government because it was “formed in an illegal way,” and without consulting Fatah.

One week ago, opposition from Fatah's Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) bloc caused Fayyad and Abbas to postpone the swearing-in.

Hamas meanwhile said the formation of a new government in the West Bank at this time is a “pre-step” to strangling the unity dialogue

Hamas Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum called the formation of the new government akin to “political, legal and constitutional chaos,” and added, “this is a deliberate attempt to ruin the internal dialogue and threatens the future of unity.” He also said it was a step aimed at pleasing the US and Israel.

Two other potential coalition partners, the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) have refused to join. Members of smaller parties and independents will take the remaining positions.

The swearing-in took place at 6:45pm local time in the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah.

The new ministers appointed are:

Sa'id Abu Ali – Minister of Interior
Siham Al-Barghouthi - Minister of Women’s Affairs
Khaled Al-Qawasmi - Minister of Local Government
Ahmad Al-Majdalani - Minister of Labor
Isma'il Du'eiq - Minister of Agriculture
Majida Al-Masri – Minister of Social Affairs
Hatem Abd Abdul Qader – Minister of Jerusalem Affairs
Ali Jarbawi - Minister of Planning
Maher Ghneim – Minister of State
Hassan Abu Libdah – Secretary-General of the Cabinet
Sa’ai Al-Krunz – Minister of Transportation
Bassem Khoury – Minister of Economy
Muhammad Shteyeh – Minister of Public Works and Housing

The following ministers from the previous government were appointed in the new government:

Riyad Al-Maliki – Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mahmoud Al-Habbash – Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs
Khuloud D'eibes – Minister of Tourism
Ali Khashan - Minister of Justice
Fathi Abu Moghli - Minister of Health
Mashhour Abu Daqqah - Minister of Telecommunications
Lamis Al-Alami – Minister of Education

There were no ministers of Prisoners Affairs, Youth or Information.

The Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority holds power only in limited areas of the West Bank. Hamas, the winner of the 2006 legislative elections, will maintain its hold on the Gaza Strip, viewing Fayyad’s government as illegal.

Abbas originally appointed Fayyad as the head of an “emergency government” following Hamas’ June 2007 takeover of the Gaza Strip. Under Section 7 of the Palestinian Basic Law, the president does have the power to dismiss a government for 30 days . Then, however, the PLC must decide, with a two-thirds supermajority, whether to extend the state of emergency.

The PLC, in turn, is controlled by Hamas, but cannot muster a quorum because of the number of members who are in Israeli prisons.


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