A new Hamas government was sworn in at 10 A.M. on Sunday morning at the Palestinian parliament in Gaza. Ismail Haniyeh will continue serving as prime minister, with some reshuffling of cabinet ministers. The health minister, for example, who has suffered harsh criticism in light of Gaza’s deficient health system, will be replaced.
The new government does not on its own constitute a significant change, but is primarily cosmetic. This is Hamas’ way of conveying that reconciliation with Fatah is not a priority. It should come as no surprise that no Fatah members will serve in this government.
The Palestinian Authority has meanwhile conveyed its own message: Registration for local elections in the West Bank - slated to take place on October 23 - opened Saturday. This is not the first time the PA has scheduled a date for local elections. Just six months ago, elections were postponed due to ill preparation, as well as concerns over a Fatah loss. Nonetheless, the launch of registration without Hamas’ participation is the PA’s way of sending a message that reconciliation can wait.
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