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Palestinian Authority Swears in New Government Amid Factional Tensions

A new Palestinian Authority government was sworn in by PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday headed by his long-time ally Mohammad Shtayyeh in the role of prime minister.

The Shtayyeh government replaces the “national consensus” government led by Rami Hamdallah, who resigned in January. His resignation came following the failure of reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas.

The Hamdallah administration was formed in 2014 in a bid to reconcile the West Bank, ruled by Abbas, and the Gaza Strip, governed by the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas, who seized the territory from the PA in a violent coupe in 2007.

Spokesmen for both the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said that the two factions would not participate in any government formed unilaterally by Abbas. Both the PFLP and DFLP reject the Oslo Accords, the basis for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

In December 2018, Abbas decided to dissolve the Palestinian Parliament that had not functioned for over 12 years. Since the announcement, no date has yet been set for an election. In its 25 years of existence, the PA has held only two general elections, the first in 1996 and the last in 2006.

Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations envoy for Middle East peace, said “elections, conducted in line with national laws and established international democratic standards” could contribute toward reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

Hamas, which exercises complete political and military control over Gaza, said the new government only further divided Palestinians.

“The Shtayyeh government has no Palestinian national consensus and no legal backup. It is illegitimate,” said Khalil al-Hayya, deputy chief of Hamas. “This government was made to empower the internal Palestinian division and again proves that there is no return to real national unity.”

As both the PA and Hamas have failed to cooperate, Gaza’s reconstruction has been delayed, despite Israeli efforts to move the process along. Hamas has also been diverting reconstruction materials to rebuild its terror tunnels.

[Photo: euronews (in Portuguese) / YouTube]