Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has named British-educated political independent Rami Hamdallah as new prime minister, a Palestinian official told Reuters on Sunday, in a move that was immediately condemned by Gaza Strip rulers Hamas.
"President Abbas has designated Rami Hamdallah to form a new cabinet," the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He will replace Western-favored economist Salam Fayyad who quit  in April and formally leaves office this month.
A little known figure outside Palestinian territories, Hamdallah is a professor of linguistics who has been president of An Najah National University, in the West Bank's largest city, since 1998.
Hamdallah will be expected to serve until a unity government is forged with Hamas on the basis of commitments made by the leaders of the two Palestinian enclaves last month.
Hamas swiftly rejected Hamdallah's appointment, calling it "illegal."
Outgoing labor minister Ahmad al-Majdalani said it would likely mean a regular cabinet would have to be formed until the two factions managed to piece together the planned unity government.
"As long as Fatah and Hamas don't come to an agreement and set a new timetable for their consultations, it means president Abbas will have to charge a new individual with forming a new, regular Palestinian government," he said earlier Sunday.
Last month, Fatah and Hamas agreed to set a three-month timetable for forming a unity government.
Establishing a unity government and holding elections were the main aims of a reconciliation deal the two nationalist movements signed two years ago, but it has never been implemented.
Political attempts to heal the rift have foundered in the past largely on differences over policy toward Israel.