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Ramallah: The Palestinian president has chosen longtime adviser Mohammad Ishtayeh as his new prime minister, officials said Sunday, a step that further deepens the rift with the rival Hamas group.

Ishtayeh, a British-educated economist, is a top official in Abbas’ Fatah movement.

He is a former peace negotiator and strong proponent of a two-state solution with Israel. He also is a strong critic of the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Ishtayeh will succeed Rami Hamdallah, who had overseen a unity government formed nearly five years ago with the goal of reaching a conciliation deal with Hamas.

Those attempts made little headway, and collapsed a year ago when Hamdallah’s motorcade was almost struck by a roadside bomb in Gaza.

Hamdallah announced his resignation in January after years of failure in reconciliation efforts. Ishtayeh is now expected to appoint a new Cabinet of Fatah supporters.

Ishtayeh, who is in his early 60s, has a Ph.D. in economic development from the University of Sussex, according to his website.

He has held a number of senior positions, including Public Works minister and a past peace negotiator with Israel. He currently is head of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction, a body that works with international donors on economic development projects in the Palestinian areas.