US congratulates new Palestinian government

By AFP
Published: April 15, 2019
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Newly appointed Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh speaks at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 10, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

Newly appointed Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh speaks at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 10, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: The United States congratulated the new Palestinian government on Sunday, a day after incoming Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced his new cabinet alongside President Mahmud Abbas – leaving out Hamas.

“Congratulations to the new Palestinian Authority Cabinet,” tweeted Jason Greenblatt, assistant to US President Donald Trump and special representative for international negotiations.

“With the experience of those on the list, we hope we will be able to work together toward peace and improving Palestinian lives. It’s time for a new chapter.”

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.

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In a statement late on Saturday, Abbas confirmed the new government and welcomed the cabinet. It includes many of his longtime allies and members of Fatah, though several smaller factions are also represented.

It comes as the Trump administration is expected to finally publish a long-delayed peace plan.

The contents remain closely guarded, but Palestinians have reason to fear it will be skewed toward Israel.

Since coming to power, Trump has proven to be perhaps the most pro-Israel American president in history, breaking with decades of international consensus to recognise Jerusalem as the country’s capital and Israel’s control over the Golan Heights.

The peace plan is being developed by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew whose close family ties to Netanyahu have heightened Palestinian suspicions over whether the US administration can serve as an honest broker.

US officials have only revealed vague outlines of what the plan might propose, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has suggested it could break abruptly with precedent.

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