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Palestinian new cabinet shake-up

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Palestinian new cabinet shake-up

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Western-backed Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is forming a new government to prepare for elections later this year.

The complete reshuffle is being interpreted as an attempt by President Mahmoud Abbas to show he is open to change, against the backdrop of the political upheaval in Egypt and Tunisia.

On Saturday, his Fatah administration said it would call legislative and presidential elections by September.

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

The Hamas party rulers of the Gaza Strip (since 2007) say they will not take part in or recognise the ballot organised by the Palestinian Authority in charge of the West Bank.

Abbas’s inability to negotiate an independent Palestinian state with Israel has further undermined his position.