Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party backs Mohammad Shtayyeh as new Palestinian Prime Minister

The move appears to be part of efforts to further isolate Hamas, the Palestinian leader's political rivals

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Central Council of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the West Bank city of Ramallah. AP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Central Council of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the West Bank city of Ramallah. AP

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is expected to appoint long-time ally Mohammad Shtayyeh as prime minister in the next few days after backing by his Fatah party, senior officials said Thursday.

Analysts view bringing in Mr Shtayyeh to replace outgoing prime minister Rami Hamdallah as part of Abbas's efforts to further isolate his political rivals Hamas, who run the Gaza Strip.

The central committee of Fatah backed Mr Shtayyeh to take over the post during a meeting earlier this week, the senior officials said on condition of anonymity.

The recommendation is not binding on Mr Abbas, but he is expected to back the decision, the officials said.

Mr Shtayyeh, born in 1958, is a long-term Abbas ally and member of the Fatah central committee.

He would replace Hamdallah, who was politically independent.

Mr Shtayyeh has been part of a number of Palestinian negotiating teams in US-brokered talks with Israel, and is a former government minister. He is also an academic and economics professor.

Mr Hamdallah's government submitted its resignation in late January, though it has continued on an interim basis.

Secularist Mr Abbas remains the primary decision-maker and interlocutor with the international community.

Palestinian politics has essentially been paralysed since 2007, when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip from Mr Abbas's forces in a near civil war, a year after winning parliamentary elections.

Since then Mr Abbas's governments have maintained limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, while Hamas has led a rival administration in Gaza.

The previous government was formed during a period of improved relations and had the backing of Hamas.

This government will instead be dominated by Fatah, though other smaller parties will be represented. Hamas will not be included.

Updated: March 8, 2019 01:45 PM

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