Palestinian President Plans to Form New Government – Without Hamas

May 7, 2009 - 5:29 AM
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (AP Photo)

Ramallah, West Bank (AP) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to ask his prime minister within the coming week to form a new government without the Gaza Strip's Islamic Hamas rulers, a senior aide said Thursday.
 
Months of power-sharing talks between Abbas' Fatah movement and Hamas have gone nowhere. "If they continue like this, it could last for years," aide Yasser Abed Rabbo said.
 
Formation of a new government enjoys "external support," he added, referring to Egypt, which has mediated the floundering power-sharing talks. There was no immediate comment from Egyptian officials.
 
Abed Rabbo said the next round of Egyptian-brokered contacts would take place on May 16 as planned. But Hamas shared his pessimism regarding their outcome.
 
"There are no signals on the horizon of a power-sharing deal with Fatah," said Mahmoud Ramahi, a Hamas leader.
 
Fatah insists that Hamas yield to international demands to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, "which the movement will not accept under any condition," Ramahi said.
 
But he cautioned that if Abbas forms a new government "that would undermine" the unity talks, he added.
 
Abbas ordered the formation of the current government in the West Bank after Hamas overran Gaza nearly two years ago, routing Fatah security forces and in effect creating dueling Palestinian governments.
 
He claims authority over Gaza, too, but in practice has no influence there.
 
The new government Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will be asked to form will include old ministers and new, Abed Rabbo said.
 
Meanwhile, an Israeli soldier was shot to death Thursday during a clash in the West Bank, the military said.
 
The soldier shot while troops were trying to quell rioting in the village of Bir Zeit near Ramallah, it added. The military was investigating his killing and said a number of Palestinian suspects have been arrested.
 
No other details were immediately available.