Hamas nominates pime minister

Feb. 16, 2006 at 3:15 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Deputy head of Hamas' political bureau confirmed reports that Ismail Haniyeh was nominated to be prime minister of Palestine, Haaretz reported Thursday.

"Such an important position requires consultations between leaders in the (Palestinian) territories, in prisons and in exile. Nothing official has been reached so far," said Mrzouk.

While Mrzourk confirmed reports of Haniyeh's nomination, Haniyeh, a leader of the group in the Gaza Strip, said Hamas was still holding talks to determine who the next prime minister would be. Haniyeh is viewed as a leader of the more pragmatic wing of Hamas.

Haniyeh, who headed Hamas' list of candidates during the Jan. 25 parliamentary election, was widely expected to get the nod from Hamas. The movement was expected to present Haniyeh's nomination to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday.

While Abbas has called on Hamas to form a government which will respect peace deals with Israel, it is expected that when Hamas forms its government early next month it may not necessarily be in line with Abbas' own view, which may trigger a political crisis.

Western nations have been placing pressure on Hamas to abandon its formal commitment to destroying Israel and to put a stop to violence.

Israel has vowed to boycott all contact with the Palestinian government unless Hamas recognizes the Jewish state and renounces violence. The United States and the EU have threatened to cut aid unless Hamas renounces violence, recognizes Israel and agrees to abide by interim peace deals.

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