Archive for Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hamas leaders to resign

February 13, 2007


— Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Monday his militant Hamas government will resign in the coming days - a formality that should clear the way for a new coalition with the pragmatic Fatah movement.

Haniyeh acknowledged, however, that last week's power-sharing deal between the two sides left key issues unresolved - most notably control over the security forces.

Those issues still could cause the deal to unravel, but Haniyeh said in a televised address Monday that both sides were committed to the agreement to bring an end to the bloody infighting that has plagued Gaza in recent months.

"All Palestinians have won in this agreement," he said.

Hamas and the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed to a division of Cabinet positions, but have not yet decided who will get the key post of interior minister and thus exert considerable control over the security forces. Wrangling over such control contributed to the deadly factional violence that has killed more than 130 Palestinians.

The deal also did not settle the fate of Hamas' 5,600-strong militia, which was formed last year over Abbas' objections. Under one proposal, members of the force would be absorbed into various security branches, as part of an overall reform of the security service, which are mainly loyal to Abbas.

Haniyeh said his government planned to resign in the coming days to start the process of forming the new coalition. Once the government steps down, Abbas would formally request that Haniyeh set up a new government.

Palestinian officials hope the deal will lead to a lifting of international sanctions that were imposed on the government after Hamas' election last year.


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