New Palestinian government gets mixed reception

Incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, right, embraces President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 15 April 2019
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New Palestinian government gets mixed reception

  • The two groups have been at loggerheads since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in a 2007 near-civil war, a year after winning parliamentary elections

AMMAN: Palestinians have welcomed their new government, but criticized its lack of female representation and say people are apathetic toward politicians.
The administration was sworn in on Saturday by President Mahmoud Abbas and headed by a loyalist from his dominant Fatah party.
Mohammad Shtayyeh, an economist and longtime Abbas adviser, will serve as prime minister of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA).
He has said he wants to focus on the economy of resistance, and one of his first pronouncements was reviewing Palestinian use of the Israeli currency.
PLO Executive Secretary Saeb Erekat welcomed the new government, saying he was confident it was up to the “grave responsibility” being undertaken.
Ziad Khalil Abu Zayyad, a Fatah spokesman, said the new government would have to support the Palestinian leadership in facing down US and Israeli plans to prevent an independent state.
“The government will deal with the challenges that the Palestinian people face in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza even though it is limited in resources,” he told Arab News.
But there are signs of apathy and outright hostility toward the administration. Top-selling daily newspaper Al-Quds ran a front-page story about the new government without a photo and Hamas, which runs Gaza, called Shtayyeh’s appointment a blow to unity efforts.
The two groups have been at loggerheads since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in a 2007 near-civil war, a year after winning parliamentary elections.
“This is a separatist government, it has no national legitimacy and it will reinforce the chances of severing the West Bank from Gaza," said Hamas as the swearing ceremony in Ramallah ended.
Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki and Finance Minister Shukri Bishara remain in their positions. Shtayyeh will run the ministries of interior and religious affairs until new appointees are named for these posts.
The new government will also have for the first time a minister of entrepreneurship and economic empowerment, Usama Sadawi.
Jehad Harb, a veteran analyst, said the average age in the new government was 60. Economics Minister Khaled Assali is the oldest at 72. Fadi Hidmi, minister of Jerusalem affairs, is the youngest at 42.
Hidmi said his priority was the people of Jerusalem.
“East Jerusalem is a disaster zone and our priority will be to help strengthen the steadfastness of our people, especially young people; whether it’s addressing school delinquency or supporting economic development, we want to ensure that Palestinians have what it takes to stay in Jerusalem,” he told Arab News.
Harb criticized the reduced female presence, as there are just three women in the 22-member Cabinet.
“The lack of female representation contradicts commitments by the PLO to include at least 30 percent of women in all new appointments,” he told Arab News.
Danny Qumsieh, manager of Bethlehem-based Mawwal FM, said the Palestinian public was not interested in who was leading the government.
“Palestinians trust in government is at an all-time low,” he told Arab News. “People are more interested in their daily affairs and interests and don’t care who is (prime) minister or even who the president is.”


Trump spoke with Abu Dhabi crown prince on Thursday: White House

Updated 19 April 2019
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Trump spoke with Abu Dhabi crown prince on Thursday: White House

  • The two leaders discussed Washington’s continued support for the UAE

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump spoke by phone on Thursday with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, the White House said in a statement.
The two leaders discussed Washington’s “continued support for the United Arab Emirates’ national defense, strengthening alliances in the region, and the impact of the Administration’s crippling sanctions on Iran,” the statement said.
“They also spoke about UAE’s contributions to the global energy markets as a reliable supplier of oil,” it said.