Hamas: The Cabinet

Jonathan Edelstein; (link fixed)

[A]nyone who was expecting a firm signal as to Hamas’ diplomatic policy is likely to be disappointed. On the one hand, several hard-liners hold prominent places in the lineup. Mahmoud Zahhar, one of Hamas’ co-founders and the head of the organization in Gaza, will be foreign minister, while Said Siyyam, a former field commander in the Gaza military wing and part of the current unofficial triumvirate, will hold the interior portfolio and have responsibility for the security forces. At the same time, both the prime minister himself is a relative moderate. So is Deputy Prime Minister Nasir Shaer, the dean of Islamic studies at an-Najah University, who is expected to have day-to-day responsibility for governing the West Bank. And even Siyyam, despite his militant record, is regarded as a pragmatist and has good relations with the Fatah-dominated officer corps.

Speaking of an-Najah, it’s going to be a very important place once the incoming government takes office. At least four of the 24 ministers are drawn from the Najah faculty, giving it more representation than even the Islamic University of Gaza (a key Hamas incubator where Prime Minister Haniyeh once taught). In addition to Shaer, the Najah ministers will be Omar Abdul Razek (Finance), Samir Abu Eisheh (Planning) and Ahmad al-Khalidi (Justice). The last of these, a professor of constitutional law and one of the drafters of the proposed Palestinian constitution, is considered a political independent, and his appointment may be an indication that Hamas intends to keep its hands off the judiciary. Abu Eisheh’s appointment may also be a signal of Hamas’ long-range strategic policy: as a member of the Najah engineering faculty, he has written proposals for linking the Palestinian economy and infrastructure with Jordan and Egypt. In any event, with so many ministers from an-Najah, the university as a whole stands to become an unofficial government think tank and sounding board, so that might be one of the places to look for policy cues.

Lots more there, and be sure to read the comments.

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Kate McMillan
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Kate McMillan is the proprietor of small dead animals, which has won numerous awards including Best Conservative Blog and Best Canadian Blog. She contributed nearly 300 pieces to OTB between November 2004 and June 2007. Follow her on Twitter @katewerk.


  1. jew91 says:

    If Hamas has formed a Goverment of this structure (as mentioned above), I believe Israel has a great expectation and hope. It should not loose the opportunity to build relationship with the new Hamas-led Goverment. If it fails, it will be strategically disasterous and years of further violence are expected. After the Israeli elections, the new cabinet must endorse long-time relationship engaging plans with the Palestinians on the grounds of Peace. In parallel, the American Goverment should re-establish contact with the newly elected Palestinian Goverment. The EU should not block any aid to the Palestinian zones. Otherwise, this will invite a cicle of violence that no one loves to envisage in the future. I hope that Israel, the USA and EU take wiser steps and positive measures rather than punitive mesures against the Palestinian electorate.