Ismael Haniya, the new PA prime minister, said the formation of the cabinet was completed.

 

The door was still open for the participation by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a small group holding two seats in the Palestinian legislative council, Haniya said.

 

According to an unofficial line-up, the new cabinet includes 24 ministers, 10 from the Gaza Strip and 14 from the West Bank. Of the 24 ministers, only eight come from the legislative council, while the rest are technocrats and independents, with Islamist leanings.

 

Hamas's leader in Gaza, Said Siyam, will be at the helm of the interior ministry, succeeding Nasr Yusuf, a Fatah member who in the mid 1990s oversaw the PA crackdown on Hamas, particularly in the Gaza Strip.

 

Mahmud al-Zahar, a physician by profession, could become the new Palestinian foreign minister, a choice reportedly not everybody is pleased with, given al-Zahar's fiery style.

 

Decision-making process

 

Palestinian sources close to the Hamas decision-making process told Aljazeera.net that the appointment of al-Zahar as the PA top diplomat was not final.

 

The sources added that former PA minister Ziyad Abu Amr was also in the running for foreign minister.

 

The new minister of finance will be Umar Abd al-Razzaq, professor of economics at the Najah National University. 

 

Abd al-Razzaq was released from an Israeli detention camp only a few days ago.

 

Mahmoud al-Zahar appointment
as foreign minister is  not final

The existing minister of economy, Mazin Sinukrut, an Independent Islamist, will remain in his post. This, it is hoped, would maintain a degree of continuity in the management of the Palestinian economy.

 

Sinukrut is a wealthy businessman from Ram Allah and advocates liberal economic policies. He also holds relatively moderate views with respect to Israel.

 

The new minister of planning will be Samir Abu Aisha, also a businessman from the northern West Bank town of Nablus.  

 

Religious affairs 

 

Shaikh Nayif al-Rajub, brother of the former PA official Jibril al-Rajub, will be the new minister of religious affairs.

 

Jamal Khudari, former president of the Islamic University of Gaza, will be minister of communications and information technology, while Yusuf Rizqa, will be the PA’s minister of information.

 

The new minister of women affairs is Maryam Salih, a Hamas MP, while Atallah Abu al Sibba will be the new minister of culture.

 

 Nassir al Shaair, a prominent academic from al-Najah National University, will be the minister of education, while Muhammed Shbair, another former president of the Islamic University of Gaza, will be the new minister of higher education.

 

Tariq Abu Arafa, from Jerusalem, will be the minister of Jerusalem affairs and Tannus Abu Aita, a Christian from Bethlehem, will be the new minister of tourism.

 

Abd al-Rahman Hanbali will be the new minister of agriculture while Ahmad al-Khalidi will be minister of justice.