Babylon & Beyond

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WEST BANK: Fayyad’s five-week period to form government expires

March 22, 2011 | 12:57 pm

Five weeks after Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad dissolved his Cabinet, saying he needed to better prepare for upcoming elections and eventual statehood, he has yet to form a new government.

Fayyad tendered his government resignation to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Feb. 14. According to Palestinian law, Fayyad had three weeks to form a government. The three weeks passed and Fayyad had not formed one. So he asked for two more weeks and he got them. So far everything is legal.

Monday was the last day for the two-week extension, and Fayyad had not yet presented his government. Palestinian law says that in such a case the president should ask someone else to form the government. But the president, who is on an official trip to Russia, did not. So Fayyad continued to do his work as prime minister, receiving foreign delegations and running his government business.

Palestinian officials said the reason a new government was not presented was that Abbas is waiting on Hamas, the Islamist movement that ousted his forces from the Gaza Strip in June 2007, to respond to his call to join the new government and end their division.

Abbas last week said he was ready to go to Gaza for the first time in three years to discuss reconciliation and is willing to postpone formation of the new government if Hamas is receptive.

So, for the moment, the Palestinian Authority’s new government remains in limbo as everyone waits to see whether Hamas accepts Abbas’ initiative.

-- Maher Abukhater, Ramallah, West Bank