Militant Islamic group Hamas present its Cabinet list

The militant Islamic group Hamas presented its Cabinet list to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday, after he did not bring other factions into its government.

Abbas is expected to approve the list in the coming days, and the new government will be presented to parliament for a vote of confidence.

Governing alone without more moderate factions, Hamas will be more vulnerable to international isolation and cuts in desperately needed foreign aid, which could deepen the economic crisis of the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli, Palestinian and US negotiators agreed yesterday to open a border crossing with the Gaza Strip to allow emergency shipments of food, after Israel closed the main cargo crossing into the area, and after aid officials warned of a looming humanitarian crisis.

Hamas's list was given to Abbas in Gaza City by Ismail Haniyeh, the designated prime minister. Haniyeh said the Cabinet would have 24 members, 10 from the Gaza Strip and 14 from the West Bank.

Abbas said he would submit the list to the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and then to parliament. Aides to Abbas said he would approve the Cabinet, but would issue a letter detailing reservations about its platform.

Abbas has demanded that the government abide by agreements with Israel and remain committed to peace negotiations.

But the Hamas draft program endorses the right of ''resistance by all means" to Israeli occupation, and says negotiations will be considered if Israel guarantees a full withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It says signed agreements will be dealt with ''responsibly and in a way that protects the higher interests of our people," a formula likely to be unsatisfactory to Abbas and foreign donors.

The United States and European Union have threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority if Hamas does not renounce violence, recognize Israel, and promise to honor agreements with the Israelis. Israel has stopped monthly transfers in taxes and customs duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.

Although Hamas had sought a broad coalition with Abbas' Fatah Party and other factions, it did not agree with them on policy guidelines. Talks with Fatah foundered over the issue of respecting agreements with the Israelis, officials said, reports Boston Globe.


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