RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in an emergency government on Sunday in a move that could bolster him in his power struggle with Islamist rivals by unlocking foreign aid in the West Bank.But in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas Islamists routed Abbas’s secular Fatah forces last week, 1.5 million people faced the prospect of greater hardship and isolation, with Israel cutting back fuel supplies and local suppliers saying the coastal enclave may run out of fuel for cars and stoves within two days.
In the West Bank, Abbas named a 13-member cabinet, presented as comprising independent technocrats, that includes a tough-talking ex-guerrilla chief as interior minister.
“Security of the citizen is the priority,” said Salam Fayyad, the U.S.-trained economist whom Abbas named prime minister in place of Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas.
Abbas signed decrees bypassing constitutional limits on his powers to establish the emergency government and keep it in place without the approval of the Palestinian parliament, which since last year has had a substantial Hamas majority.
Abbas also issued bans on Hamas’s armed institutions. Fayyad froze government accounts to prevent Hamas gaining access.
Hamas denounced the naming of the new cabinet as a “coup”.
Analysts and officials said Hamas had some reason to argue that Abbas was implementing a long prepared, U.S.-backed plan to strip it of power, albeit that the loss of Gaza was a shock.
Abbas adviser and former U.S. consul Edward Abington said Washington had encouraged the president to “kick out” Hamas for a year, urging him to form an emergency government.