Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday appointed Rami Hamdallah to be the PA’s new prime minister.
Hamdallah is replacing Salam Fayyad, who served six years at the post. Fayyad resigned last month under pressure from Abbas, amid speculation that Palestinian president perceived that his premier had grown too independent.
Hamdallah’s name had been floated as a possible replacement for Fayyad as early as last April.
How long Hamdallah serves as prime minister remains unclear. Abbas’s Fatah faction and its rival Hamas have promised to form a unity government two months from now, which would again set up the government to be reshuffled. Alternatively, and especially given widespread skepticism over the possibility that a unity agreement comes together, Hamdallah’s appointment could be seen as a unilateral measure on Abbas’s part – and a vote of no-confidence regarding the possibility of rapprochement with the Islamists of Hamas.
Still, sources close to Abbas said Hamas was aware of Hamdallah’s impending appointment, and that his will be a temporary government that will serve only until the formation of a unity government with the PA president at its head.
At his appointment ceremony Hamdallah expressed general support for Abbas’s political and diplomatic platforms, and pledged to push forward efforts for an independent Palestinian state. Additional ministers are expected to be named soon.
Hamdallah, a British-trained English professor, was until now president of An-Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus. His reputation, like that of his predecessor, is one of relative independence.
Hamdallah, 55, lives in the village of Anbata, south of Tulkarm in the northern West Bank. After joining An-Najah in 1982, Hamdallah was appointed president 15 years ago. He also headed the PA’s Monetary Authority and elections commission.
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