Palestinians agree on unity premier
(Associated Press, 11/13/06)

A senior Hamas official confirmed Monday that the militant Palestinian group and the Fatah faction have agreed on naming Mohammed Shabir to head the next Palestinian unity government.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy to the Damascus-based Hamas political bureau leader Khaled Mashaal, told The Associated Press in the Syrian capital that the two major factions have agreed on the nomination of Mr. Shabir.

Mr. Shabir, 60, headed Gaza’s Islamic University until 2005. The U.S.-educated Mr. Shabir is considered to be close to Hamas but not an active supporter. […]

Respected economist Salam Fayyad, meanwhile, is being considered for the post of finance minister, a job he held in the outgoing government. Fayyad was credited with fighting mismanagement and cronyism, and his return to the treasury would likely go far in lifting a crippling international aid boycott.

Hamas and Fatah hope that Mr. Shabir and Mr. Fayyad will be acceptable to the international community and help persuade the West to lift economic sanctions on the Hamas-led government.

The leading candidate for the third key post, foreign minister, is Ziad Abu Amr, an independent legislator with ties to both factions, officials close to the talks said. Mr. Abu Amr has mediated between Hamas and Fatah in the past. The post is currently being held by a Hamas hardliner, Mahmoud Zahar.


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