Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to reshuffle government

A Palestinian official says Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will be replaced

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 11, 2018, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gives a speech after laying a wreath at the tomb of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat inside the Mukataa compound, in the the West Bank city of Ramallah. The decade-long Palestinian split looks set to deepen in the coming months, with officials saying president Mahmud Abbas will take a series of measures against Gaza to squeeze its Islamist rulers Hamas. / AFP / ABBAS MOMANI
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will reshuffle his government and replace Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, according to a senior official.

At a meeting of his Fatah party’s Central Committee late on Sunday, Palestinian officials decided to form a new national unity government to replace the current administration.

Palestinian Authority members in Ramallah signalled that Mr Hamdallah’s future looked bleak. “No one wants him,” one official said. Mr Hamdallah will be replaced by another Fatah Central Committee member, the official said, but was unable to give a timetable for a new government.

Mr Abbas created a four-man committee to speak to other Palestinian factions about forming a new government, the official told The National.

They will talk to smaller factions within the Palestine Liberation Organisation such as the Palestinian Liberation Front and the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front.

Mr Abbas’s move to reset his government comes in his 13th year as PA leader, despite having won an election in 2005 for a term of only four years.

The change suggests Palestinian acceptance that the unity government, in which Mr Hamdallah led a Cabinet of technocrats, failed to achieve reconciliation with Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Mr Hamdallah was willing to resign, according to his spokesman. The prime minister has “put his government at the disposal of President Mahmoud Abbas”, Yussef Al Mahmud said.

On a visit to Gaza in March last year, a bomb exploded next to Mr Hamdallah’s convoy in an apparent assassination attempt.

The Palestinian officials who could replace Mr Hamdallah include PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat, Palestine Investment Fund chairman Mohammad Mustafa, senior Fatah official Mohammad Shtayyeh, and Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein Sheikh.

The official said that Mr Mustafa’s appointment would be unlikely, despite Mr Abbas’s fondness for him, because he is not a member of the Fatah Central Committee.

Although the official confirmed that Mr Sheikh was being considered, there is another front runner those in Ramallah believe will get the job.

“I think it will be Mohammad Shtayyeh,” the official said.

Whoever is chosen to lead the new Palestinian government, Mr Abbas’s spokesman said that it “will shoulder the concerns of our people and continue on the path of restoring national unity, ending the division and moving ahead on the road to freedom and independence”.