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Palestinians Divided Over Prime Minister’s Successor

Veteran officials emerge as probables to replace Hamdallah

[Ramallah] Following the sudden resignation of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday, the Palestinian rank and file appear to be divided between two veteran officials of the PA as most likely to fill the vacancy.

According to a Palestinian official speaking to The Media Line anonymously because he was not authorized to address the media, members of the Palestine Liberation Organization Central Committee – the umbrella organization recognized by the international community as the official voice of the Palestinian people – are advocating for Mohammed Shtayeh, while others are advocating for Hussien al-Shiekh.

The source explained that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is waiting for members to decide, otherwise, “He will assign forming the new government to Rami al-Hamdallah.”
Hanna Issa, a Palestinian political analyst confirmed to The Media Line that according to Palestinian law, the head of the Palestinian Authority makes the final decision regarding the new prime minister after receiving recommendations from the Central Committee.

Issa explained that Hamdallah will stay-on as acting prime minister until a completely new government is formed. He said, “naming the new prime minister isn’t enough; he has to formulate the administration with all of its ministries.”

Issa stressed that in a normal situation, the new prime minister has to be approved by the Legislative Council but since the Palestinian Legislative Council is on hold since 2007, the upcoming selection process will just skip this step.

Mohammad Shtayyeh is the minister for the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR,) in addition to being a former Minister of Public Works and Housing.
He headed the Palestinian Delegation to the Multilateral Talks on Regional Economic Cooperation and served as Secretary General of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission. Shtayyeh received his Ph.D. in Development Studies from Sussex University in England. He published several books on the Palestinian-Israeli struggle and the economic development of Palestine.
Hussain Sheikh is the Palestinian Minister for the Coordination of Civil Affairs since 2013, where he serves as the primary contact with Israeli authorities regarding civilian matters in the Palestinian Territories. He was elected to the Fatah Central Committee in 2009, and following the 2014 Gaza war, he was appointed as the PA’s representative on the trilateral Gaza reconstruction committee alongside Israeli and Egyptian representatives.

Hussain Sheikh is also a member of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) and the PLO Central Council.

Moeen al-Taher, a Jordanian political analyst, is critical of forming a new Palestinian government while the Palestinian bifurcation between Fatah-led West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, a situation that has existed since the Islamist Hamas took control of Gaza in a violent take-over in 2007. According to Taher, “it would deepen the division between the Palestinians.”