Photo: Ma'an News Agency
Photo: Ma’an News Agency

Bethlehem, 14 Rajab 1436/3 May 2015 (MINA) – The Palestinian Authority’s ruling party Fatah is seeking to reshuffle the national consensus government, a senior Fatah official told Ma’an late Saturday.

Secretary-General of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council Amin Maqboul said that the reshuffle had been discussed at the last session of Fatah’s Executive Committee, and that President Mahmoud Abbas had confirmed it would take place soon.

“It was supposed to take place in late April,” Maqboul said, “but has been delayed because the government has been preoccupied with events in Gaza,” Maan News Agency quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

Maqboul said that a reshuffle will see five to six portfolios swap hands and will name a new minister of the economy whose incumbent Muhammad Mustafa resigned from the government early last month.

Rami Hamdallah will continue to head the government as prime minister, Maqboul said.

The consensus government has come under intense pressure in recent days following the failure of a high-profile government visit to Gaza that ended in disarray on Apr. 20.

The visit, aimed at resolving an employee dispute between the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and Hamas, came to an abrupt end when the delegation of eight ministers alleged that Hamas prevented them from leaving them their hotel or meeting with anyone.

Following the debacle, a minister told Ma’an that the unity government had cut off all contact with Hamas, and on Friday, a Hamas official branded the government a “failure” and said that Hamas no longer supported the body of politically-independent technocrats.

Hamas MP Ismail al-Ashraq reiterated Hamas’ calls for elections, which were supposed to take place within six months of April last year when the unity government was formed, but which have been put on hold indefinitely.

Earlier on Saturday a delegation of Elders, comprising former US President Jimmy Carter and former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, also urged President Abbas to hold elections in the hope they will “bring peace and unity, and benefit all Palestinians.”

No election has been held in the occupied territories for nearly a decade.

Abbas’s presidential mandate expired in 2009, but he has remained in office because there has been no election. The Palestinian Legislative Council — Palestine’s parliament — also has not met since 2007.

Palestinian political analyst Ahmad Rafiq Awad told Ma’an that a government reshuffle would remain incomplete “as long as the legislative institutions are not functioning — especially the Legislative Council.”

Awad said that he believed any government reshuffle would be a reaction to the ongoing dispute between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza.

He said: “Since the national consensus government has been prevented from working in Gaza, the reshuffle will only be an attempt to reach compromises and make amendments to the ongoing internal disputes.”

Minister of Labor Mamoun Abu Shahla previously told Ma’an that Hamas had been consulted on a government reshuffle, although it was not clear whether they were still being consulted. (T/P010/R04)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)