Abbas’ appointment on Thursday of a new deputy prime minister has been deemed by some a provocation of his rivals in the Hamas terror group.
By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Longtime Palestinian Authority (PA) presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh was promoted to deputy prime minister and information minister Thursday in a move that rival faction Hamas sees as a slap in the face.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri slammed the appointment as a sign that Abbas’ Fatah faction was trying to take over the supposed consensus government currently headed by Rami Hamdallah, who is officially considered a political outsider.
“Any reconciliation should be sponsored by a Palestinian unity government and not a Fatah government,” he tweeted.
Although a Greek Orthodox Christian, Rudeinah has been a loyal official in the overwhelmingly Muslim Fatah organization for decades.
He was appointed as spokesman by Yasser Arafat after serving as assistant of PLO co-founder Abu Jihad, a mastermind of many terror attacks that killed dozens of Israelis throughout the seventies and eighties. Abu Jihad was assassinated by Israeli commandos in Tunis in 1988.
Speaking for Ramallah, Rudeinah has been a harsh critic of US President Donald Trump’s recent Mideast strategy, denouncing the decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, and supporting the boycott of the administration officials in charge of the as-yet unrevealed peace plan known as “the deal of the century.”
Hamdallah, for his part, served as the former head of al-Najah National University and had never held a political position before President Abbas selected him. He remains without any real power base within Fatah.
He was appointed in 2014 to head what was called a “unity government” with Hamas, although the Islamic terror group runs the Gaza Strip separately from the PA.
Hamdallah was expected to be a caretaker prime minister until a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation could bring about a new, power-sharing government.
While the two sides have been talking about reconciliation for years, signing yet another agreement in 2017 under Egyptian auspices, implementation has yet to take place.
According to the Qatar-based Gulf Times, Hamdallah told journalists the Rudeineh appointment was part of the PA’s efforts to develop the information sector.
However, Ramallah sources cited by the Jerusalem Post said that Abbas might have made the move because he would like Rudeineh to replace Hamdallah, who has been accused of wanting to succeed the ailing PA president.
There would be several contestants for the role, however, as many Fatah officials consider themselves in line for the position.
Abbas is currently in the thirteenth year of what was supposed to be a four-year term.