Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has named British-educated political independent Rami Hamdallah as new prime minister, a Palestinian official told Reuters on Sunday, in a move that was immediately condemned by Gaza Strip rulers Hamas.
A little known figure outside Palestinian territories, Hamdallah is a professor of linguistics who has been president of An Najah National University, in the West Bank’s largest city, since 1998.
He will replace Western-favoured economist Salam Fayyad who quit in April and formally leaves office this month.
“President Abbas has designated Rami Hamdallah to form a new cabinet,” the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Hamdallah will be expected to serve until a unity government is forged with Hamas on the basis of commitments made by the leaders of the two Palestinian enclaves last month.
Efforts to heal a rift since Hamas’ 2007 seizure of Gaza from Fatah have often foundered in the past largely over their ideological differences about policy toward the conflict with Israel.
Hamas swiftly rejected Hamdallah’s appointment, calling it “illegal.”