Ma'an News Agency
May 4, 2011 - 12:00am

With the Palestinian unity agreement signed and set to be sealed on Wednesday noon in Cairo, four candidates have emerged as the top contenders for the post of prime minister.

The candidates have been identified as follows:

Munib Al-Masri Billionaire philanthropist and unity activist from Nablus, who spearheaded a unity push with business owners and independent leaders in the West Bank, traveling more than once to Gaza to meet with figures there. He heads PEDECO, a Palestinian investment firm.

Ziad Abu Amer Legislative Council member, author and former foreign minister from Gaza City who earned his masters degree in comparative politics from Georgetown University in Washington DC. He was first elected to the PLC in 1996.

Abed Al-Karim Shubeir Former independent presidential candidate in the 2005 elections, where he garnered 2.6 percent of the popular vote, coming in fourth after Abbas, Mustafa Barghouthi and Taysir Khald.

Jamal Al-Khudari Gaza independent and former minister, elected to the Legislative Council in 2006. He has been active in the unity push.

A second source in Cairo said that President Mahmoud Abbas would suggest that current caretaker Prime Minister Salam Fayyad retain his role, and see through the plan of the 13th government to build the institutions of a Palestinian state by September.

The source said Fayyad was also supported by a handfull of other factions.

A sixth name was also put forward.

Kamaleen Shaath President of the Islamic University in Gaza and member of the National Reconciliation Committee.

As the new transitional government is appointed, Fatah lawmaker and member of its revolutionary council Faisal Abu Shalha told Ma'an that a session of the currently defunct Legislative Council is expected in the coming weeks.

He also said Fatah officials would shortly go to Gaza where the reconciliation deal would be symbolically concluded, heralding in a new era of unity.

"We are going to Gaza with all confidence to overcome the past stage [of division] and to restore to the Palestinians their unity and comfort and to end the siege," he told Ma'an.

"We will be united in our confrontation of the Israeli occupation, we will return to work [in the PLC] and act wisely to prevent division," he added, calling for an end to political arrests.


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