Palestinian President to announce Cabinet Reshuffle

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is about to announce a reshuffle of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s cabinet, sources said on Sunday.

The sources say there are “strong indications” that Abbas will assign a deputy to Fayyad, who will also give up the finance portfolio to a new minister.

Since Fayyad formed his government in the West Bank in 2007, he has held the finance ministry.

Abbas intensified meetings with his senior aides and Fayyad to discuss the reshuffle, which basically aims at filling several vacant posts in the cabinet.

Fayyad’s deputy is likely to be a member of Abbas’s Fatah party, the sources said. The U.S.-educated Fayyad has run in the 2006 parliamentary elections with his new Third Road party.

The reshuffle became needful after five ministers stepped down over the past months, most of them to corruption suspicions.

On Saturday, a spokesman for Abbas said the reshuffle will not be an alternative or a violation to the efforts of reconciling Fatah and Islamic Hamas movement.

Hamas took over Gaza by force and set up its own government in 2007, splitting it politically from the West Bank.

In April, Abbas said that he decided to reshuffle Fayyad’s government, adding that he used to delay the amendment to give chances for a general reconciliation.

Hamas and Fatah signed a deal in Qatar to form a transnational government that would rule the Gaza Strip and the West Bank until elections, but Fatah accuses Hamas of blocking the agreement by banning the Central Elections Commission from operating in Gaza, according to Xinhua.