Last update - 11:21 21/01/2007
Hamas agrees to appointment of independent interior minister
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent, and News Agencies
Hamas has agreed to the appointment of an independent interior minister, sources involved in Palestinian unity government talks told Haaretz on Sunday.
Fatah and Hamas negotiators also agreed to the appointment of Fatah's Salam Fayed as finance minister and Ziad Abu Amr as foreign minister. Hamas had initially wanted to keep the interior portfolio, which controls the security forces, for itself.
Meanwhile, senior Hamas official said Sunday the crucial meeting between Abbas and exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal would not take place and blamed the moderate Abbas for the breakdown of the talks.
"The possibility of a meeting today [Sunday] has become nonexistent," said Moussa Abu Marzuk, deputy head of Hamas' politburo. Hamas had shown a lot of "flexibility" in trying to resolve disputes between the two factions, but "external factors... caused this latest crisis," he said.
The Abbas-Meshal meeting, scheduled for Saturday night, was canceled at the last minute after disagreements emerged in the unity government talks.
Abbas on Saturday warned that if the unity talks with Hamas failed, he would call new elections.
"Either there will be a unity government or there will be elections," he said.
Abbas did meet Saturday with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who expressed his support for Palestinian unity.