Daily Israel Report

Abbas to be Prime Minister in PA Transitional Government

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is to serve as Prime Minister in the PA transition government; Fayyad and Haniyeh to be his deputies.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 5/12/2011, 7:38 PM / Last Update: 5/12/2011, 7:57 PM

Sources close to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he will hold the post of prime minister in PA's coming transitional government, the Maan news agency reports.

Current PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (Fatah) and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas) are slated to be Abbas' deputies. Fayyad will also assume the role of Minister of Finance.

Hamas and Fatah have reportedly agreed to the arrangement on condition that Haniyeh and Fayyad hold the same political weight in the new cabinet.

PA officials previously announced the transitional government would be made up entirely of independent figures.

Fatah and Hamas are set to announce the new government in Cairo on Saturday with operations beginning early next week to demonstrate progress under the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement signed in late April.

Observers have noted the PA's transitional government is, essentially, two separate governments - one in Judea and Samaria and one in Gaza - under one caretaker cabinet.

Talks between the rival factions continue over integrating ministries. The issue of merging security forces, is an especially difficult sticking point.

Major General Hazem Attallah (Fatah) is expected to head the commission charged with integrating security forces under Egyptian supervision, Maan's sources said.

PA officials said "major changes" were coming in terms of "security prisoners" held by the rival factions. A mass release is expected.

Israeli analysts have been highly skeptical of a Fatah-Hamas unity government's long term viability, saying the divisions between the rival factions may prove too stark to overcome.

Senior members of the PA leadership have admitted Hamas has not even clarified its long-term relationship to Fatah, let alone its stance on other key policy issues.

"But, if we are talking about principles, for example what will be the position with Hamas toward the peace process, or Fatah, this we will continue to negotiate later," Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and Fatah party member Fuad Kokali said after the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement was signed.