Gaza Strip's Hamas leader reshuffles Cabinet

AP News
Posted: Mar 10, 2011 8:52 AM
Gaza Strip's Hamas leader reshuffles Cabinet

The Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip reshuffled his Cabinet on Thursday, naming the first foreign minister for the isolated militant-run Palestinian territory.

Hamas said Ismail Haniyeh's move was unrelated to the unrest rocking the Arab region, but it is likely to be seen as an effort by the hard-line movement to convey a more open image to the outside world.

For the first time since the group's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, there is a Hamas foreign minister. Haniyeh appointed Mohammed Awad to the post. Awad will also keep his job as planning minister.

Thursday's reshuffle added five ministers, including one woman. Most ministers kept their current portfolios.

Hamas fighters ousted its more moderate rival, Fatah, from control of Gaza four years ago. Fatah, which supports negotiations with Israel for creation of a Palestinian state, still controls the West Bank.

Hamas openly calls for Israel's destruction, and its militants have targeted Israel with rocket attacks.