Still no official Palestinian list of the new government – but it's being called a "national consensus government"

So far, two days after a new government was sworn in, neither the Palestinian Government Spokesperson Ehab Bseiso nor the Government Media Center that he heads in the Prime Minister’s office, have distributed a list of the ministers, or of their portfolios…

There is a page here [in Arabic] on the website of the Prime Minister’s office which has the photos of most of the cabinet ministers – but some photos are repeated two or more times, if the minister was given two or more portfolios, and it’s a bit clumsy]…
UPDATE: And there is a worthy effort done by a clever intern at the Foundation of Middle East Peace in Washington DC, here — but in the light of statements being made, and lists NOT being published, it has become clear that neither Hamdallah nor al-Ayssa are Minister of Prisoners — The fact seems to be, nobody is…

How is it that there is no official list?  This is the minimum a new government should be able to do.

Everybody expects that this is just an interim situation, but there still should be a list — unless, of course, the idea is to hide something, or to be ambiguous and unclear…

Inevitably, the conclusion is drawn that this has to be, for some reason, deliberate.

Meanwhile, we have received the text of the statement made to the media by Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah yesterday morning, after he chaired the first meeting of the new 17th Palestinian Government — which he said “is a is a national consensus government”.

Hamdallah noted that this new government “is based on the foundation of an independent and national technocracy”.

And, he said, “This government sustains the President’s vision and will implement the PLO political agenda”.

Continue reading Still no official Palestinian list of the new government – but it's being called a "national consensus government"

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]

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

Yaakov Katz on the new Netanyahu government – the Sayeret Matkal (elite military unit) connection

The Jerusalem Post’s correspondent with excellent military contacts has written today that, with the imminent inauguration of Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s next Prime Minikster, a “Sayeret Matkal trio” will be taking the reins of power.

Katz wrote that “[Ehud] Barak, Israel’s most decorated soldier, was the commander of the IDF’s most elite unit, known by its Hebrew name, Sayeret Matkal. Netanyahu, whose brother Yoni later became commander of the unit and was killed during the 1976 raid on Entebbe, was a junior team leader under Barak’s command in the early 1970s. With the swearing-in of the new government on Tuesday, the relationship between Barak and Netanyahu has changed – Netanyahu, the new prime minister, is the commander in chief. Barak … as the defense minister, he will have to carry out missions assigned by Netanyahu. Netanyahu and Barak are not the only members of the new government with origins in the army’s most elite unit. Moshe ‘Bogie’ Ya’alon, the former chief of staff slated to become the minister of strategic affairs, served as commander of the unit between 1987 and 1989. This Sayeret Matkal trio will now be leading the country’s defense and security apparatuses at a time when some of the most critical decisions in the country’s history will have to be made – from whether to use military force to stop Iran’s race toward nuclear power, to the Hizbullah threat in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip … As former members of Sayeret Matkal, the Netanyahu-Barak-Ya’alon trio carried out some of Israel’s most covert and complicated operations – some of which are still classified”. This article can be read in full here.

Continue reading Yaakov Katz on the new Netanyahu government – the Sayeret Matkal (elite military unit) connection