JERUSALEM (AP) – The Palestinian emergency Cabinet will step down Friday night and be replaced by a caretaker government that will rule indefinitely, Palestinian officials said Friday.
The current emergency Cabinet was formed by moderate President Mahmoud Abbas after the Islamic group Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in mid-June. After the takeover, Abbas, now in control only of the West Bank, declared a state of emergency that ends Friday night.
Nabil Amr, a top aide to Abbas, said the new caretaker government will be headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who heads the emergency Cabinet, and be made up of the same ministers with several new additions.
The move was another step in Abbas’ consolidation of his rule in the West Bank in the aftermath of the Hamas takeover in Gaza.
Since declaring the state of emergency, Abbas has been ruling by decree. In one such executive order, Abbas ordered a new term of parliament to start this week to approve the emergency government as required by law, but Hamas boycotted the session.
Dozens of Hamas lawmakers have been arrested by Israel in the past year, giving Abbas’ Fatah movement a slight majority in the 132-seat parliament even though Hamas won Palestinian elections in 2006. Both sides have charged the other with undermining the Palestinians’ nascent democracy.