Mahmoud Abbas puts together [+ pushes through] a new Palestinian Government

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a new Palestinian Government today in the Ramallah Muqata’a.

So far, it’s being called the “new government”… [UPDATE [see above]:  the following day, PM Hamdallah willl refer to it as “a national consensus government”…]

This group portrait [minus those stuck in Gaza, and  it turns out there are four] was taken after the new ministers present were sworn in, one-by-one, and was posted on Twitter here by @TPM [Talking Points Memo], and illustrates their post, here — [AP Photo / Majdi Mohammed] :

Group portrait of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with the new Palestinian Government
Group portrait of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with the new Palestinian Government

Putting together information from several sources, plus my own monitoring of the event televised live at 1:00 pm, this is the best I could do to come up with a list of the ministers in the new governmen:

1. Rami Hamdallah – Prime Minister + Interior Minister
2. Ziyad Abu Amr – Deputy PM + Minister of Culture  – originally from Gaza, not living there
3. Muhammad Mustafa – Deputy PM + Minister of National Economy

4. Shukri Bishara – Finance Minister + Planning Minister
5. Riyad al-Maliki – Foreign Minister
6. Adnan Husseini – Minister of Jerusalem Affairs

Three from Gaza [CORR: there are four {4} living in Gaza who were denied permission by Israel to leave and travel to Ramallah, and there was no videoconference of the swearing-in ceremony, either – the fourth is #13, see below, who is also the 3rd lady minister in this new government]…
7. Mustafa Salim as-Saqqa – [Gaza = absent] – Minister of Justice
8. Mufeed Hassayneh – [Gaza = absent] – Minister of Public Works + Housing
9. Ma’moun Abu Shahla – [Gaza = absent] – Labor Minister

Objections from Hamas in Gaza centered primarily around Abbas’ planned elimination of a Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs [due to objections from major donors, especially the USA]. The objections were resolved at the last minute by preemption + obfuscation:

10. Shawqi al-Aiyssa – Minister of Agriculture + Minister of Social Affairs

It was later explained – incorrectly, and this was just part of the confusion –  that al-Aiyssa was given a third portfolio, Prisoners… but at the moment he was sworn in, no such thing was announced.
UPDATE 1: It became clear hours later that in fact he was NOT sworn in as Minister of Prisoner Affairs, as I confirmed when I re-watched the video when it was shown during the 9 pm news and when I spoke to Palestinian Government Spokesman Dr. Ehab Bseisso [on Tuesday afternoon June 2], who told me that PM Rami Hamdallah had appointed Shawqi al-Aiysa, AFTER the swearing-in ceremony — just to “oversee” Prisoners’ Affairs…
UPDATE 2: PM Hamdallah said to the media the next morning [again, see above]: “Concerning the issue of transforming the Ministry of Detainees to a commission under the PLO, the government regards this as the part of the President’s mandate and the PLO’s responsibility. For the time being, Mr. Shawqi Al-Ayasseh will assume the role of caretaker of the Ministry of Detainees”.

Three women ministers – previously, there was never more than one at a time
11. Rula Maaya’ – [a woman, who served in the same post in the immediately preceeding government] – Tourism + Antiquities Minister
12. Khawla al-Shakhsheer – [a woman] – Education and Higher Education Minister
13. Hayfa al-Agha – [a woman – and UPDATE: yes, she is from Gaza, and that’s why she was absent from the Muqata’a ceremony] – Women’s Affairs Minister

14. Jawad Awwad – Health Minister
15. Allam Moussa – Communications Minister + Transport Minister
16. Yusef Day’is – Minister of Awqaf [Islamic trusts foundation] + Religious Affairs
17. Nayef Abu Khalaf – Minister of Local Governance

Palestine TV aired what seemed to be a pre-recorded speech by Mahmoud Abbas, a few minutes after the swearing-in ceremony in the Muqata’a.

A little later, Palestine TV aired statements by Abbas + Hamdallah at initial meeting in Muqata’a of new Palestinian government [and announced that an Ismail Haniyeh statement was expected…] Abbas spoke to the new cabinet about elections [presidential, Palestine Legislative Council + also, for the 1st time ever, for the PLO’s Palestine National Council]; he also stressed the 1967 borders, which he stressed include East Jerusalem.

The new Palestinian government is supposed to prepare the way for long-delayed elections in which Hamas’ electoral strength will be tested + measured.

Earlier today, Haaretz’ Barak Ravid reported that, “barring a last minute dispute”, a new Palestinian government will be sworn in today + Israel’s Security Cabinet will meet afterward…

Ravid reported herethat “Abbas pressed for the swearing-in on assumption that any further delay wld lead to additional disputes” [w/Hamas, or others, on posts]

Also in the morning, Ma’an News Agency reported here that Mahmoud Abbas is re-shuffling his appointed Governors, just ahead of his formation of a new government. According to the @MaanNewsAgency report, the just-replaced Governors of Bethlehem, Abdul-Fattah Hamayil, and of Jenin, Talal Dweikat. will move to the President’s office in the Ramallah Muqata’a. Dweikat is known in particular for tough crackdowns in name of security
[Before his posting in Jenin, which followed an attack on the previous appointed Governor there, Talal Dweikat was Governor of Tulkarem].

Andalou News Agency [Frence] later reported here that “Le nouveau gouvernement palestinien compte 18 ministres dont le chef du gouvernement, ses deux adjoints, le secrétaire général du conseil des ministres et cinq ministres établis à Gaza”. [Translation by the author: The new Palestinian government has 18 Ministers including the Prime Minister + his two deputies + the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, as well as five [sic] ministers in/from Gaza].

It is reported here that “Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and his ‘cabinet’ in Gaza have resigned, Hamas spokeswoman Israa al-Mudallal said, ‘paving the way for the new ministers of the consensus government’… Haniyeh welcomed the new cabinet [n.b. – sworn in at the Ramallah Muqata’a in front of Palestinian + PLO President Mahmoud Abbas] as ‘a government of one people and one political system’. ‘We’re leaving the government, but not the nation. We’re leaving the ministries but not the question of the nation’, Haniyeh said in a televised speech”…

The Andalou News Agency reported reported [in French] here that “Le président Mahmoud Abbas a téléphoné lundi au vice-président du Bureau politique du mouvement Hamas, Ismaël Haniyeh, pour les féliciter des efforts qu’il a consentis pour mettre fin à la scission palestinienne”. [Translation by this author: President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday phoned the Vice-President of the Hamas Politbureau, Ismael Haniyeh, to congratulate hom for his efforts to end the Palestinian division”].

Israel’s Security Cabinet convened after these developments to discuss how to react, and how to proceed…

And, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry [ #SecKerry ] is reportedly coming to Jordan for 2 days during which time he’s planning to meet with Palestinian President Abbas [seems this will be on Wednesday].
UPDATE: However, the State Dept Spox denied any such plan, when asked about this on Monday evening in Washington — from the State Dept transcript:
QUESTION: Is there any meeting between Secretary Kerry and President Abbas in Jordan this Wednesday?
MS. PSAKI: No, there’s not a meeting planned.
The State Dept transcript is posted here

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