Abbas appoints former finance minister as new Palestinian PM

By Xinhua

 Gaza : Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday chose Salam Fayyad, a political independent who was former finance minister of the Hamas-led unity government, as new prime minister, replacing Ismail Haneya of Hamas, the pan-Arab al-Jazeera TV reported.

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    Fayyad was asked to set up an interim Palestinian government, one day after Abbas dissolved the unity government between Hamas and Fatah, which took office on March 17.

    Abbas dissolved the unity government and declared a state of emergency on the Palestinian territories after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip following days of deadly infighting between Hamas and Fatah, led by Abbas.

    Fayyad, born in 1952, is a U.S.-educated economist who acquired his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin. He was a former World Bank official and lived in the United States for about 20 years.

    He served twice as finance minister of the Palestinian government. Besides being finance minister of the Hamas-Fatah unity government since March 17 this year, he was also finance minister under a Fatah-led government from November of 2003 to early 2006 before the Hamas-dominated government took office.

    In early 2006, Fayyad ran as founder and leader of a new small political faction, called "The Third Way," in the Palestinian legislative election.

    Fayyad, who is reportedly having good relations with both U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is seen as pro-Western.