Who appointed the Palestinian minister of education?

Who appointed the Palestinian minister of education?
Conflicting versions explaining the Palestinian minister of education's resignation have prompted discussions about nepotism and the role of women in Palestinian politics.
3 min read
08 Dec, 2014
Khawla is one of only three women serving in the current Palestinian government [Getty]
The Palestinian political scene has been embroiled in controversy over the past week. The debate is not about the battle to shake off the Israeli occupation or the delay in the reconstruction of Gaza after the summer 2014 war, but over who appointed Khawla al-Shakhshir minister of education.

The quarrel broke out when Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, declared during a live interview on Palestinian TV that 
Rami Hamdallah, president of the Palestinian National Unity Government, appointed Shakhshir, who is his sister-in-law, not him.

"Shakhshir holds the highest qualification out of all the members of the government,” Ahmad added.

Hamdalla subsequently called the program refuting Ahmad's version of the story, and arguing it was Ahmad who initially suggested her for the position.

In her resignation letter, of which al-Araby al-Jadeed has seen a copy, Shakshir said she was leaving her job because of the public insult to the 
"efficiency and professionalism" of one of only three women in the Palestinian government. 

She argued that she refused to be used: "as a tool that is thrown around in the media because of a disagreement in the party."

The letter also criticised the Palestinian government for failing to function while: "Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza continue to suffer."

However, the following day Shakshir denied she had resigned in a Facebook status saying she: "cannot abandon her responsibilities without reason."

The controversy, subsequent resignation and then retractment of the resignment generated a stream of sarcastic and angry comments on social media. Using the hashtag  #
مين_جاب_خولة (#who_bought_Khawla) frustrated Palestinians criticised the culture of nepotism rife within the Palestinian political establishment. 

The answer to Shakshir's appointment was presented as a million dollar question:
Others ironically asked how she had become minister in the first place:

The announcement of her resignation also prompted people to ask: "What about other corrupt ministries?"
However, not everyone attacked Shakshir, with some choosing instead to criticise the treatment of women in Arab politics, asking: "When will we respect women?"
In doing so, they made a link between the campaign against Shakshir and a recent incident in the Jordanian parliament in which Hind al-Fayez, a Jordanian lawmaker, was told to "sit down" by a member of parliament. The MP then cursed the parliamentary quota that allocates 15 out of its 150 seats to women. The hashtag #اقعدي_يا_هند (#sit_down_Hind) went viral.

Public figures need to be held accountable for their actions, however, these two incidents involving the public humiliation of women have been used as examples of women's oppression across the region.