Hamas Rejects Fayyad to Head New Palestinian Government

Posted June 12th, 2011 at 8:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The militant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has rejected its secular rival Fatah's nominee to head a future unity government.

Fatah on Saturday nominated current Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, a political independent, as its candidate to lead the new government. Fayyad is a U.S.-educated economist and former International Monetary Fund official who enjoys the respect of foreign donors. He has also been credited with building the government institutions necessary for Palestinian statehood.

A Hamas official said Sunday that Fayyad is unfit for the job of prime minister because he “has sunk the West Bank into debt.” Salah Bardawil also accused him of cooperating with the United States and Israel in cracking down on Hamas in the Fatah-controlled West Bank.

Officials from Fatah and Hamas are set to meet Tuesday in Cairo to begin the process of choosing a new Cabinet, beginning with the prime minister.

Hamas has ruled Gaza since it seized the coastal strip in 2007, and recently signed an Egyptian-mediated reconciliation agreement for joint authority with Fatah.

Hamas has not been part of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and has led hostilities against Israel. The U.S. State Department considers Hamas a terrorist organization.

Also Sunday, Fatah officials said the group's central committee decided to expel former Gaza security commander Mohammed Dahlan. President Mahmoud Abbas' office accused Dahlan of trying to topple the West Bank government and of corruption.

Officials say they have recommended that his case be referred to the attorney general.

Dahlan is blamed by many Palestinians for allowing Hamas' 2007 rout of Fatah forces in Gaza, which enabled the militant group to take control of the coastal strip.