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New Palestinian government sworn in as PA reform prospects dwindle

The new Palestinian government is made up of ministers unaffiliated with political factions but loyal to the Palestinian Authority's longtime president.

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After the breaking of the Ramadan fast on March 31, the 19th Palestinian government headed by US-trained economist Mohammad Mustafa was sworn in. The new government has 23 members, none of them directly affiliated with any political faction, in smooth transition from one government loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to another under a prime minister who has been a confidant of the longtime president.

The new lineup includes nine ministers born and raised in Gaza, two Christian Palestinians and four women. The important Civil Affairs Ministry, which was previously headed by Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary Hussein Al-Sheikh, is no longer headed by a cabinet-level minister. A cabinet member has been assigned to “relief services,” for which there is no existing ministry, suggesting such activities will be an important area for the new government

Abbas reiterated that the government is accountable to the PLO and its political platform. Abbas called on the new prime minister to continue the reform process already in the works and to begin preparing for general and parliamentary elections in Gaza and the West Bank, including Jerusalem. No election date was given.

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