Abbas appoints new Palestinian PM

Salam Fayyad, an independent parliamentarian, is named emergency government head.

    Hamas supporters have been celebrating their 
    victory in Gaza [Reuters]

    Fayyad is former World Bank employee who has good relations with the West, and Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, said that he is thought of as a safe pair of hands.

    Bishara said: "He is not a strong man in Palestinian society and is not known for his charisma or vision. He is known as a correct accountant, not a reckless investment banker."

    Dialogue call
    The appeal for dialogue from Meshaal, the chief of Hamas' political bureau, came at a news conference in the Syrian capital Damascus, where he lives in exile, within hours of an Arab foreign ministers' meeting in Cairo to discuss the crisis
    Witness accounts

    Voices from Gaza

    He said Hamas had no option but to use force to wrest control of Gaza in fighting that killed dozens of Palestinians.

    He said: "What is needed now is to deal with the Palestinian schism. Hamas is for Arab sponsorship of a dialogue in the Palestinian national interest.


    "The lack of security drove the crisis toward explosion. What happened in Gaza was a necessary step. The people were suffering from chaos and lack of security and this treatment was needed."


    Haniya's stand


    Before the announcement of Fayyad as his replacement on Friday, Haniya said he remained open to dialogue with Abbas.

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    He said: "I still stress that the door is open to restructure Palestinian relations on the basis of national values."
    Earlier Haniya said that the "unity government" would continue to function despite being sacked by Abbas. 

    He called his dismissal and the declaration of a state of emergency on Thursday "hasty".
    Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, said: "We know that he can carry on leading the government in the Gaza Strip with the Hamas ministers who are in the Gaza Strip.


    "We do not know how they will be able to fund the government, how they will bring in food and supplies or how they will be able to have any influence in the West Bank."
    Hamas, now in apparent full control of Gaza, declared clemency for all Fatah members and security forces on Friday, after seizing several senior officials, a spokesman for the group's military wing said.

    Civilians poured into the presidential compound in Gaza City on Friday, hauling away fridges, satellite dishes and doors, as Hamas fighters fired shots into the air in an attempt to disperse them.

    Portraits of Abbas and his predecessor, the late Yasser Arafat, lay on the ground as Hamas fighters showed reporters pools of blood where they said two of Abbas's guards shot themselves rather than surrender.

    A Fatah official said the guards were killed.


    Foreign support

    With Gaza effectively under the control of Hamas, Israel and the US were preparing to ease an embargo on the Palestinian Authority in order to channel funds to Abbas's Fatah-run West Bank administration.

    "If there will be an emergency government without participation of Hamas, then the funds can flow," a senior Israeli official said. "From our point of view, there isn't a Hamas government anymore."

    Israel's military said on Friday that all crossings into the Gaza Strip had been closed "until further notice."

    Johnston steps

    In another development on Friday, Hamas said it had made contact with the captors of Alan Johnston, the kidnapped BBC journalist, and was taking "serious and practical steps" to win his release.


    BBC reporter Alan Johnston was kidnapped
    three months ago in Gaza [AP]

    Abu Obeideh, a spokesman for Hamas, said his group "will not allow anyone to attack journalists or foreigners, because they are helping our people".

    When asked whether the use of force is possible in winning Johnston's release, Abu Obeideh said all options are open.

    Johnston, 45, was seized in Gaza three months ago by a group believed to have some links to Hamas, and a message purporting to be from his captors has demanded the release of prisoners, including a cleric being held in Britain.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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