(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) A Palestinian national unity government will be formed and will swear in at a formal ceremony in front of President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, a Palestinian official said on Saturday.
Line-up of the new government is "almost ready and it groups 15-17 ministers," said Azzam Ahmad, the head of Fatah's delegation involved in the national conciliation, in remarks aired by Palestine Television.
He also indicated that the new cabinet would be headed by Rami Hamdallah, who was assigned by the president, last Thursday, to form the new government, in line with an agreement signed between Abbas' Fatah movement and the Gaza-based Islamic movement, Hamas.
The new national unity government was initially scheduled to be proclaimed Thursday, but differences between Fatah and Hamas over posts' distribution delayed the declaration.
On Friday, the head of the dismissed Gazan government, Ismail Haniyah, played down reports about serious rifts with President Abbas over the cabinet formation.
The disagreements with president Abbas over the government line-up are insignificant, Haniyah said in a statement to reporters in Gaza, denying reports that Haniyah's movement, Hamas, and Abbas' Fatah organization were locked up in a serious dispute over posts' distribution in the aspird unity government.
Hamas officials have publicly expressed opposition to assigning Riad Al-Malki as foreign minister in the new government, and the media have quoted the leading Hamas official, Mahmoud Al-Zahar, as saying that the two sides were at odds over "appointment of five ministers, not only one." However, Haniyah drew a more positive picture of the situation, saying deliberations with Fatah "have passed the most crucial phase and current efforts are focusing on a cabinet formation that may win consent of the Palestinian people." The new government, that may group 15 ministers, should "be embraced by the national and Islamic factions," Haniyah was quoted as saying, adding that he and the other concerned leaders were involved in "round-the-lock effort" to try reach a consensus.
Regarding reports the two sides were at loggerheads over dissolution of the ministry of prisoners, Haniyah said "this ministry is a national basis and means a lot in shadow of the open-ended hunger strike that has been observed by the prisoners since 37 days ago," alluding to striking Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons.
Hamas and Fatah have recently mended fences following a long period of bitter ties, amid stalemate in the peace talks with Israel which has heaped scorn upon Abbas for seeking to reconcile with Hamas.