Christian Hamas Minister Backs Down

Hamas has announced that a Christian, who was designated tourism minister in the new government, will not be part of the government.

Tunous Abu ‘Ita, a 57-year-old businessman from Bethlehem who was named the future tourism minister, excused himself from the government at the last minute and gave no reason for the sudden withdrawal, spokesman of Hamas in the West Bank Farhat As’ad told AFP.

Hamas, the victor of the January 25 legislative elections, is an Islamic organization inspired by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to establish a Muslim state in Egypt.

The party insists it will seek a Christian replacement for Abu ‘Ita before the new government is presented to the Palestinian parliament for approval.

A Hamas spokesman told AFP on condition of anonymity that the party believes Abu ’Ita faced internal pressures that forced him to back down.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud ‘Abbas okayed the proposed Hamas-led government on Saturday.

The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) is expected to approve the new cabinet when it is presented this week, as the assembly has a Hamas majority.

Hamas is proposing a 24-member government which includes Hamas members and independents, after failing to form a joint government with Fatah and other factions.