Hamas leaders convene in Cairo

Feb. 5, 2006 at 9:18 AM

CAIRO, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Delegates from the militant Hamas party began gathering in Cairo Sunday to plan forming a Palestinian government by the end of the month.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh announced the trip Saturday after talks with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, the first meeting since the Islamic militants beat Abbas' governing Fatah party in the Jan. 25 Palestinian assembly election.

Hamas won 74 seats in the 132-seat Palestinian Legislative Council.

The delegation was also scheduled to tour Arab capitals to seek financial support for their administration, the BBC reported.

The United States and European Union are threatening to withhold foreign aid to the new government, which refuses to recognize Israel as a country, and whose militant wing has conducted thousands of attacks on Israel.

Meanwhile, Voice of America reported Israel carried out air and artillery strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing three men linked to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militant offshoot of Abbas' Fatah Party.

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