Mon, Mar 20, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Hamas ready to submit Cabinet list to President Abbas


The radical Islamist group Hamas was to submit its Cabinet list to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday after failing to persuade moderate parties to join its first government.

Prime minister-designate Ismail Haniya was to present the list of names, which includes a number of noted hardliners, for the approval of Abbas at talks in Gaza City later in the evening.

"I will today invite Brother Haniya to present the government that he has been compiling," Abbas told reporters.

"Once we have seen that list, we will then follow the regular legal procedures and then go to the PLC [parliament]," he said.

"I don't know who is in the government or their program. Until I hear that, I have nothing further to add," he said.

While Abbas has little choice but to give his approval to the nominations of Hamas, sources close to Abbas predicted he may stall on giving his rubber stamp until Israel goes to the polls on March 28.

Israeli officials urged Abbas to reject Hamas' list unless the movement behind dozens of suicide attacks renounced violence and recognized the Jewish state and past international pacts.

Haniya was formally asked by Abbas to form a government nearly four weeks ago in the wake of the Islamists' stunning victory over the formerly dominant Fatah faction in the Jan. 25 parliamentary election.

He has since tried to persuade the likes of Fatah and smaller parties to sign up to a broad-based national coalition but his efforts have been in vain.

Fatah refused to join a government that would not respect the international agreements it brokered with Israel, with many of its leaders happy to sit back and watch how Hamas deals with a host of problems including a burgeoning financial crisis.

Other secular parties such as Independent Palestine and the Third Way also declined.

The leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is still mulling whether to join and is consulting its exiled leadership.

Hamas sources said the group's hardline parliamentary leader Mahmud al-Zahar had been nominated as foreign minister, while Omar Abdul Razeq, who has only just been released from Israeli custody, would take the finance portfolio.

also see story:

Hamas focused on internals, not externals

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