Abbas loyalists dominate new Palestinian government

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Incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced his new cabinet on Saturday alongside president Mahmoud Abbas, leaving out the Islamist movement Hamas.

Several key positions were unchanged from the previous administration of Rami Hamdallah.

Analysts say the change of government was made to further isolate Hamas, which has been at odds with the Fatah party of Abbas and Shtayyeh for more than a decade.

They say 84-year-old Abbas, in power since 2005, retains the real decision-making authority.

In a statement on Saturday night, Abbas confirmed the new government and welcomed the cabinet.

It includes many of his long-time allies and members of Fatah, though several smaller factions are also represented.

Other parties, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, refused to take part, calling for a unity government of all factions including Hamas.

Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian Authority headed by Abbas is based in the West Bank, where Israel also maintains a military occupation.

Shtayyeh’s government replaces a technocratic administration which had the nominal backing of Hamas and all other Palestinian factions.

Both Foreign Minister Riyadh Malki and Finance Minister Shukri Bishara remain in their posts.

Atef Abu Seif, a Palestinian from Gaza who was badly beaten by a group of men in the Hamas-run enclave, will become culture minister.

Abbas charged Shtayyeh with forming a new government on March 10.

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