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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 March 2019

Mahmoud Abbas appoints new Palestinian prime minister

Mohammad Shtayyeh is a long-time adviser of the ageing Palestinian leader

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah. AP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah. AP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has selected a longtime adviser as the new prime minister of the Palestinians.

He asked Fatah Central Committee member Mohammad Shtayyeh to form a new Palestinian government on Sunday, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

The British-educated economist will replace Rami Hamdallah, the independent premier who had led a unity government that had the focus of reconciliation with Gaza’s ruler Hamas for the past five years.

Mr Hamdallah had little success in bringing both sides together under one umbrella. He survived an assassination attempt on a visit to Gaza in March 2018.

Palestinian officials have refused to return since that incident and Mr Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the West Bank under an Israeli military occupation, has pulled its staff from a Gaza border crossing amid deteriorating relations with Hamas.

The two groups have been at odds since Hamas routed Mr Abbas’ Fatah party to take control of the coastal enclave in 2007. The takeover has now left a widening divide between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Mr Hamdallah announced his resignation in January after years of failure in reconciliation efforts. Mr Shtayyeh is now expected to appoint a new Cabinet of Fatah supporters.

Mr Shtayyeh, who is in his early 60s, has a PhD in economic development from the University of Sussex, according to his website.

He is a former peace negotiator and strong proponent of a two-state solution with Israel. He also is a strong critic of militant group Hamas.

He has held a number of senior positions, including Public Works minister and a past peace negotiator with Israel.

He is currently head of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction, a body that works with international donors on economic development projects in the Palestinian areas.

Updated: March 11, 2019 10:20 AM

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