View Full Version : Defiant Hamas packs Cabinet with hardliners

03-21-2006, 12:15 PM
Defiant Hamas packs Cabinet with hardliners
The Times (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,251-2095266,00.html)

Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, has named a government dominated by its own leadership, defying international pressure and confounding hopes that it would moderate its extremist stance. After other Palestinian factions refused to join a coalition, the victorious Islamist group nominated a Cabinet whose senior members have all been jailed, deported and escaped Israeli assassination. Chief among Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniya’s 24 ministers are Dr Mahmoud al-Zahar, a hardliner, as Foreign Minister, and Said Siyam as Interior Minister. Most others are Hamas, with some pro-Islamist independents and technocrats, one woman and one Christian.

President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to approve them but may try to delay the decision until after the Israeli general election on March 28. However, Shaul Mofaz, Israel’s Defence Minister, said that if President Abbas accepted the line-up he would “officially turn the Palestinian Authority into a terror entity”. Hamas faces a cash crisis, as EU foreign ministers met in Brussels yesterday to consider how to continue providing aid to Palestinians without endorsing what is regarded as a terrorist organisation by the EU and US.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU External Relations Commissioner, gave warning that although Europe agreed to provide an emergency tranche of $78 million (£44 million), it would not “go soft on our principles”, and held out the threat of cutting off funds unless Hamas met certain demands.

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said: “We don’t want to punish the Palestinian people for their votes at all. On the other hand the Palestinian people need to say to any Hamas government that democracy involves responsibilities and, above all, a responsibility not to get involved in violence.” [Partridge: This coming from the man who committed British troops to Afghanistan and Iraq!]

Omar Abdel-Razeq, Hamas’s US-educated candidate for Finance Minister, said that if Western donors cut off funds, Hamas could bridge the gap by better stewardship of the Palestinian budget and seeking alternative funding. However, humanitarian agencies and James Wolfensohn, the international envoy to the Middle East, have said that instability would ensue if the West cut off aid.

Mr Wolfensohn said that since Israel refused to hand over $50 million in monthly VAT and customs revenues, the Palestinian Authority relied on international aid to fill a $120 million monthly gap between revenue and expenditure. David Shearer, head of the UN Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem, said that three things were likely to happen if the authority was starved of funds. Essential services would degrade and authority employees would lose their salaries, with a “dramatic rise in the poverty rate”. The third would be to place thousands of armed authority security forces on to the streets without jobs.


Hamas members make up 19 of the 24 members of the new Palestinian Cabinet, after the Islamic militant group failed to agree a coalition with any other party Prime Minister-designate and Minister of Youth and Sports

Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas)

Hamas's public face during election. Expelled from Palestinian territories to Lebanon in 1992, has survived at least one Israeli assassination attempt

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Higher Education

Nasser al-Sha'er (unelected Hamas)

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mahmoud al-Zahar (Hamas)

A 60-year-old thyroid surgeon, Dr al-Zahar is a short-tempered hardliner who lost a son in a 2003 Israeli air strike which also broke his back and badly injured his wife. [Partridge: Because after that he should be a beacon of love for Israel!]

Minister of Interior and Civil Affairs

Said Siyam (Hamas)

A teacher who emerged as a Hamas spokesman in 2004

Minister of Finance

Omar Adel-Razeq (Hamas)

A former economics professor who holds a doctorate from Iowa State University in the US, he was released from an Israeli prison less than a week ago

Minister of National Economy

Ala el-Deen Al-Araj (Hamas)

Minister of Health

Basim Naeem (Hamas)

Minister of Welfare

Fakhri Turkman (Independent, unelected technocrat)

Minister of Prisoners' Affairs

Naser Abdel-Jawwad (Hamas)

Minister of Information

Yousef Rezqa (Hamas)

Minister of Women’s Affairs

Mariam Saleh (Hamas, the only woman in the Cabinet)

Minister of Justice

Ahmed Al-Khaldi (Independent, unelected technocrat)

Minister of Telecommunications

Jamal al-Khudary (Independent)

Minister of Public Works and Housing

Ziad al-Zaza (unelected technocrat)

Minister of Tourism

Tanas Abu Eita (Independent and a Christian)

Minister of Culture

Attallah Abu Al-Sabeh (unelected Hamas)

Minister of Transportation

Abdel-Rahman Zidan (Hamas)

Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs

Nayef al-Rajoub (Hamas)

Minister of Planning

Samir Abu Aesha (unelected Hamas)

Minister of Agriculture

Mohammad Ramadan Al-Agha (unelected Hamas)

Jerusalem Affairs Minister

Khaled Abu Arafa (Independent)

Minister of Local Government

Issa Al-Jaabari (unelected Hamas)

Minister without Portfolio

Atef Odwan (Hamas)

Cabinet Secretary

Mohammad Awwad (unelected Hamas)