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New Palestinian govt to be ready 'in few days'

The would-be Palestinian premier is expected to announce his new government within days

AFP , Tuesday 4 Jun 2013
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Incoming Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah, who has been tasked with forming a new government, is likely to present his cabinet line-up "in the coming few days," president Mahmud Abbas said on Tuesday.

"I asked him to form a new government and in the coming few days, he will finish his consultations and declare a new government," Abbas told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, just two days after he tasked the respected academic with piecing together a new cabinet.

The 54-year-old, who heads the largest university in the West Bank but has little political experience, was tapped by Abbas as the new prime minister late on Sunday in a move hailed by Washington. Israel has reacted cautiously although pundits described him as a moderate and a pragmatist vis-a-vis the Jewish state.

The European Union also welcomed the nomination, with foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton saying Hamdallah was taking over at an important moment for the Palestinians.

"Mr. Hamdallah has been appointed prime minister at a time when there is a real opportunity for a renewed peace process, but also at a time of difficult choices and challenges for Palestine," she said in a statement.

"I look forward to working closely with Dr. Hamdallah and to supporting the continuing work to build the institutions of a future sovereign and independent Palestinian state based on respect for democracy and human rights and living in peace and security with its neighbours."

Ashton also praised former premier Salam Fayyad, hailing his "consistent and successful work to advance the Palestinian Authority's state-building efforts." Fayyad resigned in mid April after months of difficult relations with Abbas, and his term as caretaker prime minister came to an end on Sunday night.

Hamdallah has said his new cabinet, which would be very similar to the outgoing line-up, would be an interim step on the road to a unity government comprising Abbas's Fatah faction and the rival Hamas movement as laid out in an as-yet unfulfilled unity agreement signed in 2011.

Speaking to Voice of Palestine radio on Tuesday, Fatah Central Committee member Mahmud Alul said Hamdallah would preside over "a temporary government until a national unity government is formed." He said the new government was likely to be announced within two days. "Hopefully on Thursday evening," he told the station.

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