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Fatah nominates Fayyad to head interim Palestinian government

By the CNN Wire Staff
A May 31, 2011 file photo shows Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
A May 31, 2011 file photo shows Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
  • Salam Fayyad is the incumbent prime minister of the Palestinian Authority
  • Official: Fatah is to discuss candidacy of Fayyad and others with Hamas in Cairo Tuesday
  • Hamas is unlikely to support him
  • He is a U.S.-educated former IMF official

(CNN) -- Fatah has nominated incumbent Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to head the interim Palestinian government, a party official told CNN.

The secular Palestinian nationalist party nominated Fayyad during a Saturday night meeting of its central committee in Ramallah, said Nabil Shaath, a senior Fatah official.

Fatah and Palestinian rival faction Hamas are trying to hammer out a power-sharing government after a sometimes violent rivalry that has left Fatah in control of the West Bank and Hamas running Gaza.

Fayyad and other potential candidates are scheduled to be discussed in a meeting with Hamas in Cairo on Tuesday, said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. He did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

"It is the right of Fatah party to nominate and elect any candidate it desires, but it is also the right of Hamas to approve the candidate nominations," Hamas spokeman, Sami Abu Zuhri, told CNN. Hamas is an Islamist faction with a militant wing.

Fayyad is not a member of either of the formal rival factions, which are working to form a new transitional reconciliation government.

Fayyad is reviled by many in Hamas who consider him a lackey for the United States and Israel. He's also resented by many old-guard Fatah officials for the policy control he exerts.

A former International Monetary Fund official, Fayyad was educated in the United States.

His exclusion from a future government would likely contribute to pressure on American and European governments to curtail the hundreds of millions of dollars given to the Palestinian Authority every year.

He suffered a heart attack while visiting Texas last month for his son's college graduation, the Palestinian Authority said at the time.

CNN Jerusalem bureau chief Kevin Flower contributed to this report.