March 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian Prime Minister- designate Salam Fayyad froze the reshuffle of his West Bank-based government to make way for President Mahmoud Abbas' proposal to form a unity government with the Gaza Strip, an official said Tuesday.

"There has been nothing new with Fayyad's authorization to reshuffle the government," the official told Xinhua, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Fayyad will not resume negotiations with Palestinian technocrats, politicians and representatives of factions to join his government until at least Friday, when Abbas will return from an external tour, the official added.

The legal five-week period in which Fayyad should have completed the formation of his government ended Monday.

Last week, Abbas said he is ready to visit the Gaza Strip, controlled by Islamic Hamas movement, to form a technocratic unity government preparing for national elections within six months.

Abbas' declaration came in response to an invitation by Ismail Haneya, head of the deposed Hamas government that rules Gaza. In 2007, Hamas ousted pro-Abbas forces and his Fatah party and took over Gaza.

Welcoming Abbas' response, Hamas said it needs to resume dialogue with Fatah to resolve issues related to security, elections and the reform of Palestine Liberation Organization.

However, Abbas said his visit to Gaza is subject to Hamas' acceptance of his proposal to form a transitional government until new elections are held.


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