Ma'an News Agency
February 28, 2011 - 1:00am

The Fatah party's top governing body announced Sunday that it had set standards for the selection of cabinet ministers as freshly appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad continues consultations ahead of announcing a new line-up.

While the Fatah party holds power in the West Bank, it has no jurisdiction over policy, and it remains unclear to what extent the announced standards will be adopted by Fayyad, an independent, who was tasked by Fatah leader and President Mahmoud Abbas to form a new Palestinian Authority cabinet.

Fatah official Jibril Rajoub told Ma'an that the Central Committee had "renewed its trust" in Fayyad, and "decided to authorize President Mahmoud Abbas to form the new government in consultation," with him.

Rajoub said the Fatah body, which earlier affirmed that members would not take posts in the new cabinet, decreed that new ministers must be "Palestinian patriotic figures," who are known to have integrity, to be professional and have a performance track record.

The official said the Fatah committee had decided to set the standards to avoid the appointment of individuals "stigmatized by previous accusations of administrative, financial and behavioral violations." But added that those with interests in the private sector should also be prohibited from joining the government.

'Expansive participation for PLO factions'

Making no mention of reports that Fayyad was preparing to offer ministerial posts of Hamas officials, with suggestions that the spots would go to those elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, Rajoub said "Fatah decided to guarantee expansive participation of PLO factions [in the cabinet] in an effort to confront the challenges of the coming stage."

Hamas is not a member of the PLO.

Rajoub said the new cabinet should focus on Jerusalem, and work toward halting home demolitions, evictions and the "Judization" of the city.

"We decided to urge the new government to spread democracy in the Palestinian community, including making all efforts necessary to hold the municipal elections on July 9 as a necessary step to reformulate the political community in a democratic fashion," he said.

Earlier reports had said the new Fayyad cabinet, to replace the government which resigned on 14 February, would focus on Gaza, in an effort to bring Hamas back into the political fold, and facilitate the holding of national elections in June.

Palestinian law gives Fayyad two weeks to form the new government, and allows the request for an extension of three weeks.

Informed sources in Ramallah said an announcement is expected by the week's end.

This is the third time Abbas has designated Fayyad to form a new Palestinian Authority government since June 2007, when Hamas split from the government and took power in Gaza.


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