For the first time in seven years, the Palestinians have one government in charge of both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. A long-awaited government of national unity headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was sworn in by President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Thirteen independents took their oath in a brief ceremony at Mr. Abbas’ headquarters.
Four more Ministers from the Gaza Strip were not present because Israel rejected a request to grant the permits to travel to the West Bank via its territory.
Riyad al-Malki, a staunch Mr. Abbas loyalist, who has been in the post since 2007, remains Foreign Minister, despite opposition by Hamas.
No minister of prisoners affairs — another bone of contention between Hamas and Abbas of the secular Fatah party — was sworn in.
Under pressure from US and European donors — who object to allowances being paid to jailed Palestinian militants and their families out of the Palestinian Authority (PA) treasure — Mr. Abbas wants to abolish the portfolio of Prisoners Affairs Minister.
Instead, he would create a prisoners’ affairs department within the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), separate from the PA.