Rami Hamdallah, an interim Palestinian PM who lasted

AFP , Monday 2 Jun 2014

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (4th L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (3rd L) pose for a group photo with Palestinian ministers during a swearing-in ceremony of the unity government, in the West Bank city of Ramallah June 2, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

Prime minister Rami Hamdallah, who stays on in his current post to head the first Palestinian unity government in seven years, is a respected academic who is little-known abroad.

Hamdallah was first appointed to the position of premier in June 2013 after his predecessor Salam Fayyad resigned.

Although he submitted his resignation over a cabinet power struggle, he stayed on in the job and has now taken over the reins of the first Palestinian government of national unity since 2007.

Pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi has described him as a "solid, upright man with patriotic principles" who had been dropped into "the jungle of the Muqataa (the president's headquarters) among the lions and hyenas."

But the university professor has managed to impose himself upon the volatile Palestinian political scene, despite initial predictions by the Israeli media that he was on a "suicide mission".

A political independent, but known to be close to the Fatah movement of president Mahmud Abbas, Hamdallah is hailed as a moderate pragmatist, although he lacks Fayyad's international recognition.

Born in 1958 in Anabta, near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, Hamdallah has been president of Al-Najah University of Nablus, the largest in the territories, since August 1998.

The 55-year-old has won plaudits for his management of the university of nearly 20,000 students, and also enjoys great respect with the public as well as in official Palestinian circles.

And he has been accepted by both Fatah and the rival Hamas movement, which governs Gaza, as the head of the new unity government.

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