warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Palestinian Government Overhaul Aims To Prevent Protests

Benjamin Gottlieb |
February 14, 2011 | 2:54 p.m. PST

Senior News Editor

PA President Mahmoud Abbas (Courtesy of Creative Commons).
PA President Mahmoud Abbas (Courtesy of Creative Commons).

The Palestinian Authority (PA) dissolved its cabinet Monday in a preemptive move to deflect the recent wave of Middle East unrest from hitting the West Bank.

The new cabinet – which will be selected by PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad – is expected to manifest within the next two weeks.

“It’s obvious that the Palestinian leadership is taking steps to soften the outcome of the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia with regard to the Palestinians,” said Hani Al Masri, an expert on Palestinian affairs. “The new situation is completely different and must be dealt with differently – the policies methods and people.”

The political shake up is interpreted as an attempt by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to show that he is open to change amid the background of viral pro-democracy protests across the Middle East.

Abbas announced over the weekend that his Fatah government would call for presidential and legislative elections as early as this September.

These developments follow the resignation of Palestine Liberation Organization's chief negotiator Saeb Erekat on Saturday, after news surfaced that the source of the Palestine Papers released by Al Jazeera was taken from his own office. The leaks showed that Palestinian negotiators were willing to make major concessions to the Israeli government unrepresentative of public opinion during the recent round of peace talks.

Meanwhile, the Hamas leadership based in the Gaza Strip announced that they would not honor any of the new appointments made by the PA, nor would they accept plans for September elections.

Abbas’s inability to negotiate a peace agreement has also undermined his position, officials said.

Al Jazeera's Cal Perry said: "The new government will take shape over the next two weeks, it will be interesting to see which Fatah members take which portfolio. Some of the most powerful portfolios include, the foreign ministry, the justice ministry, the interior ministry...these are the ones that we will see some back room bargaining for."

Of the 24 available posts in the PA cabinet, only 16 were staffed before the body was dissolved. Two of the former ministers resigned prior to the incident and six others are currently marooned in Gaza.

The liquidation of the PA cabinent mirrors decisions by other regional governments, such as Jordanian King Abdullah, which are reportedly using the tactic to quell anti-government protests before they spiral out of control.

To reach Benjamin Gottlieb, click here.

Follow him on Twitter @benjamin_max.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.