Vote on Hamas gov’t Monday

RAMALLAH — Hamas yesterday said it had reached agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to convene the Palestinian parliament Monday for a vote of confidence in the new Hamas-led Palestinian government.

“We received an application from [prime minister- designate] Ismail Haniyeh for the session to be on Saturday but we found it difficult to hold it on Saturday, so we decided the session will be on Monday,” Hassan Khrueisheh, deputy speaker of the Legislative Council, told Agence France-Presse.

The decision was taken during a meeting between Abbas and Hamas speaker of parliament, Aziz Dweik, according to AFP.

“The head of the PLC has decided it will be on Monday and the government will be sworn-in by Abu Mazen (Abbas) on Thursday,” Khrueisheh said.

Mahmoud Zahar, slated to be foreign minister, and Palestinian Authority officials had said earlier that the parliament would hold the key session on Saturday.

With an absolute parliamentary majority, that vote should be a formality for Hamas, though in a session of the PLO’s Executive Committee Wednesday in Ramallah, the movement came under severe criticism for refusing to recognise the primacy of the PLO.

Taysir Khaled, a member of the decision-making committee, predicted that a Hamas Cabinet “would be isolated by the Arab world and the international community.”

In remarks to reporters, Abbas held out hope that Hamas might still amend its policies and give the PLO pride of place. “Nobody can reject or accept the PLO from which the Palestinian Authority was created,” he said.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the PLO Executive Committee had no right to interfere in the formation of a government.

Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi on a fundraising tour of Arab and Muslim states, Hamas’ leader-in-exile Khaled Mishaal was confident of Arab and Muslim financial backing.

“I believe that the Arab countries will agree in the Khartoum summit the level of [financial] aid they will offer the Palestinian people,” he said.

“So far there has been good commitment that needs to be translated into figures… I am sure that Arab and Islamic support will cover a large part of the Palestinians’ needs. No matter what Israel does and how much pressure the United States applies, I do not think Arabs and Muslims will cave.”

Iran has said it will meet any gap in official funding for a new government once it is formed by Hamas in coming weeks.

But Mishaal said the Palestinian people could face a “catastrophe” if fellow Arabs did not also chip in.

He also said Hamas had no intention of renouncing its armed resistance to Israeli occupation.

“Israel cannot have stability with occupation. It has to choose. This is the message Israel should understand,” he told Reuters in an interview.

He said Hamas would reject international pressure to recognise Israel until Israel was compelled to change its position on Palestinian rights.

“It is illogical for the victim to be pressed to recognise its murderer and occupier,” Mishaal said. “What is required is a fundamental change in the Israeli position.”

Elsewhere, Israeli troops raided a West Bank refugee camp Wednesday, killing a wanted Palestinian and forcing two others to surrender, the Israeli army said.

Israeli troops entered the Aqwar Jaba refugee camp near Jericho to arrest three suspected Islamic Jihad activists, the army said. The soldiers surrounded three houses and called on the suspects to come out, and two of the men surrendered.

Troops reportedly fired at one of the houses to get the remaining suspect to emerge. The soldiers then entered and saw a “suspicious figure” under mattresses and, thinking he was armed, fired and killed the man, officials said. No weapon was found, the army admitted.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian legislator for Jericho and chief negotiator, condemned the killing, saying that Israeli raids and border closures were making life intolerable for the people of Jericho.

“This is part of an open war against the Palestinians,” he said.

Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Israeli Ynet website that Iran was pushing Islamic Jihad to carry out an attack before Israel’s elections next week.

“We know that Iran transferred in the last month $1.8 million to the Islamic Jihad organisation in order to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel,” he said, without elaborating.

Israeli security forces extended a closure on the West Bank and Gaza border crossings through election day on March 28, preventing Palestinian workers from entering Israel.

Check Also

Leader denies reports Hamas wants PLO alternative

CAIRO – A Hamas leader on Sunday played down reports that his group wanted to …