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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hamas says new rift with Abbas on government

Hamas says new rift with Abbas on government
Fri Nov 24, 2006 8:34am ET
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Hamas accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on
Friday of imposing what it called unacceptable new conditions for forming a
unity government.

Abbas is putting conditions on the formation of the proposed government,
including the release of an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants
in June and a halt to attacks by Hamas and other groups on Israel, said a
Hamas statement.

The statement is the latest twist in months of on-off talks between Abbas and
Hamas to try to form a coalition government that they hope will succeed in
lifting eight months of Western financial sanctions.

"Abu Mazen (Abbas), has started putting new conditions which were not included
in the understandings and agreements we have concluded to form a unity
government," it said.

"The issue of calming down armed resistance was not on the table and should
not be raised at this time," The statement said. "Hamas had announced it is
ready to stop rocket attacks if Zionist aggression and assassinations stop."

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior aide to Abbas, denied that Abbas had imposed new

Hamas said it had not received guarantees from Abbas that the West would
recognize the proposed government and lift sanctions.

The United States and European Union cut off direct aid to the Palestinian
Authority in March after Hamas won elections. Hamas, an Islamist group that is
sworn to Israel's destruction, is listed as a terrorist organization by the
U.S. and EU.

The hope is that a new government that unites "technocrats" and members of
Fatah, which is more moderate than Hamas, might open the way for the sanctions
to be lifted and for the government to again receive desperately needed
Western aid.

Even if it is formed, there is no certainty that the sanctions, which have
increased poverty throughout the West Bank and Gaza, where 3.8 million people
live, will be lifted.

Hamas and Fatah had on Monday suspended negotiations over the formation of the
government after disagreement emerged over the distribution of key ministries.

Fatah wants independent "experts" to take them over.

Hamas said in its statement that although it has agreed with Fatah to exclude
leading politicians from the new cabinet, it should not be comprised totally
of independents.
"This will not be purely technocratic government," it said.

"The new government must not be linked to other issues, such as a ceasefire or
the captured soldier. Hamas is deeply worried about attempts to go beyond the
bases agreed on with Fatah," the statement said.

"Linking the soldier issue with the proposed government damages Palestinian
interests," it said.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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