Hamas leader Ahmad Yousef said Tuesday evening that ministers in a new interim government will be named within two weeks, raising hopes that an impasse over the unity cabinet had been broken.
Fatah and Hamas party chiefs agreed in early February to form a temporary cabinet to oversee new elections and solve over four years of divided government, but their selection of Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas to head the government caused uproar in Hamas ranks.
The new cabinet was postponed, with both parties saying they were ready to go, but that the other party had requested a delay.
Ahmad Yousef told Ma’an on Tuesday that Hamas had concluded discussions to resolve its internal disagreement on the new government, and “the ball is now in Abbas’ court.”
Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muheisin rebuffed Yousef’s comments. “The president does not have time to deal with service issues, irrelevant to the political issue,” he told Ma’an.
Rather, forming the government still depends on Hamas permitting the elections commission to update its registers in the Gaza Strip, he said.
But Yousef, regarded as a moderate in the Hamas-Fatah dispute, said Abbas will now submit a list of nominees for cabinet, and Hamas and Fatah officials will meet to discuss them.
Preparations are underway for a meeting between Hamas chief in exile Khalid Mashaal and Abbas once the list of proposed ministers has been prepared.
According to Yousef, both parties had requested a two-week extension on the original deal, Fatah to ensure election arrangements in Jerusalem and Hamas to address internal disagreements.
He said Abbas wanted to study Israel’s response to the new government, and find ways to avoid Israel pressuring the PA. Israel twice withheld tax revenues last year — collected by Israel on the Palestinian government’s behalf under international agreements — when faction leaders agreed to end their four-year split.
The Fatah chief also wants to wait for the US elections to pass, Yousef said. While presidential candidates are on the campaign trail, Palestinian officials do not expect much support from the US.
But the Hamas leader said: “While this delay could be beneficial internally (to the parties), the Palestinian street cannot wait any more, and the government needs to be announced as quickly as possible.”