Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday appointed a university president, Rami Hamdallah, as the replacement of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Mr. Abbas’ office said.
Mr. Hamdallah, the president of Najah National University in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, would have three weeks to put together a new government.
Mr. Fayyad, who was appointed as premier shortly after Hamas’ Gaza take-over in 2007, resigned on April 13, 2013 over differences with Mr. Abbas and was asked to continue as head of a caretaker government until a new one was formed.
Mr. Fayyad’s term officially ended on Sunday night, prompting Mr. Abbas to name the new premier hours before Mr. Fayyad was to leave office.
Mr. Abbas met with Mr. Hamdallah, 54, and asked him to form the new government, his office said.
Mr. Hamdallah thanked Abbas for asking him to form the new government “at this sensitive time in the Palestinian cause” and said he was committed to following Mr. Abbas’ policies, it said.
“The president reaffirmed his commitment to the reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo and Doha and his deep concern for achieving them according to the timetable agreed on in Cairo”, Mr. Abbas’ office said.
Hamas in an initial reaction called the temporary new West Bank-based government illegal, noting it was not ratified by Parliament.
“This is a reproduction of previous experiences and formations by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,” a spokesman in Gaza said.
Appointing a new Prime Minister in the West Bank without a review by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) “will not resolve the problems and doesn’t achieve unity”, he added.
Hamas and Abbas, of the secular Fatah party, have been at loggerheads since the radical Islamist won a surprise victory in 2006 parliamentary elections, one year after Mr. Abbas had won separate presidential elections.
An ensuing power struggle culminated in Hamas violently seizing sole control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
Since then, the sides have been unable to agree on holding long-overdue new elections.
The new government is supposed to serve only three months, after which a new unity government agreed on between Mr. Abbas’ Fatah party and the Islamist Hamas movement — to be headed by Mr. Abbas — should be formed.
Previous joint statements by Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority run by Mr. Abbas in the West Bank, however, were never implemented.