Hamas announces the formation of new Gaza government

March 11th, 2011 - 12:51 am ICT by BNO News  

GAZA (BNO NEWS) — Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, on Thursday announced the formation of new Gaza government which includes a woman as minister.

According to the Ma’an News Agency, the new government will be led by the party’s leader Ismail Haniyeh. It is made up entirely of Hamas members, six of them new appointed members including one woman for the first time ever.

“The reshuffle is an administrative step and is not against reconciliation,” said Haniyeh. “The new government will resign when a national unity agreement is signed ending division with Fatah.”

Haniyeh will remain as Prime Minister and will be joined by Saleh al-Raqab, Minister for Waqf Affairs, Ala al-Rafati, Minister for National Economy, Atallah Abu al-Sabah, Minister for Prisoners Affairs, Mohammed al-Madhoun, Minister for Sports and Youth and Mohammed Awad, Minister of Planning.

In addition, Jamileh Shanti was appointed as Minister for Women Affairs. She is widow of late Hamas leader and co-founder Abdul Aziz Ar-Rantissi, who was assassinated in 2004. Shanti is the first woman appointed in the Gaza government since Hamas split from Fatah.

The Hamas cabinet reshuffle was first announced by Haniyeh in December 2010. However, it was postponed several times as the Prime Minister said “it was not the appropriate time for a change.”

Fatah labeled the move as a ploy and the new government as illegitimate because it had been dismissed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who recently decided to reshuffle the West Bank-based cabinet.

Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, is still holding consultations to form his own new government. On February 14, the PA cabinet resigned to ensure domestic stability.

Hamas officials said that its cabinet reshuffle does not represent an obstacle to reconciliation with Fatah but instead will facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian unity government in the near future.

Abbas’ credibility has dropped in recent times after being criticized for the poor functioning of his government as well as the stalled talks with Israel in order to achieve peace in the region and establish a Palestinian state.

The Palestinian Authority has a limited mandate in the occupied West Bank as it lost control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas in 2007, which rejects permanent, peaceful co-existence with Israel.

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