Palestinian Authority premier Salam Fayyad lost his dual role as finance minister in a government reshuffle on Wednesday, as President Mahmoud Abbas swore in 9 new ministers.
He was replaced by Nabil Qassis, a former university president who like Fayyad is a political independent. Qassis will have to deal with fiscal challenges posed by drops in aid and Israeli restrictions.
Also sworn into new roles were Ali Jarbawi as higher education minister, Jawad Naji for economy minister, Rula Maayeh as minister of tourism, Safa Nasser el-Din, telecommunications, Ali Abu Zuhri, transportation, Adnan Husseini for Jerusalem affairs, Ali Muhanna for justice, Mahmoud Abu Ramadan at planning, Hani Abdeen for health and Walid Assaf as agriculture minister.
This is the second reshuffle for the Ramallah-based government which was first established in June 2007 under Fayyad.
The shakeup added figures affiliated to Fatah, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian Democratic Union (Fida) and other independents.
The move drew criticism earlier from Abbas’ rival Hamas movement, which has its own government in the Gaza Strip.
Party spokesman Fawzi Barhoum wrote on Facebook that Abbas was introducing a reshuffle which "reflects an insistence on misconduct and maintenance of illegitimacy and disagreement."
He added: "This patching policy will not bring any benefit to the Palestinian people and won’t be helpful because it is not approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council. What starts wrong ends wrong."
Barhoum said the decision conflicted with an agreement made in Doha to establish a unity government decided by Fatah and Hamas.
Abbas seemed to concede that point earlier Wednesday, when he told a news conference in Ramallah that "The legislative and executive system have been paralyzed."
He said the incoming government "will be dismissed immediately" if the political partnership with Hamas is implemented.