On Sunday, while on a visit to Sudan, Khalid Mishaal, a Hamas political leader, also said representatives of Hamas would attend a summit of Arab leaders next month to ask for support for the new Palestinian leadership.

 

Mishaal called on the international community to respect the democratic vote of the Palestinian people to elect Hamas, a group Washington lists as a terrorist organisation.

 

"We will, in the near future, travel to Russia at the invitation of the Russian leadership," he said.

 

The invitation from Russia - part of the Quartet including the European Union, United States and United Nations mediating the Middle East peace process - surprised Western governments that have ruled out talks with Hamas until it renounces violence and recognises Israel.

 

Hamas won an overwhelming majority in last month's election and is expected to form the majority in a new Palestinian government.

 

Mishaal said: "We ask the international community to respect the results of this democratic vote. The Palestinian people have chosen and it's now up to you to respect their choice."

 

Arab support

 

Khartoum will host the Arab League summit next month, and Mishaal said Hamas would attend and ask Arab leaders to support the newly elected Palestinian leadership.

 

"The Palestinian people have chosen and it's now up to you to respect their choice"

Khalid Mishaal,
Hamas leader

The Palestinian government is heavily dependent on European and US aid. Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, has threatened to withhold aid unless Hamas recognises Israel.

 

Hamas has carried out more than 60 bombings against Israeli targets since an uprising began in 2000 against Israeli occupation.

 

Hamas leaders have often been the target of Israeli assassination attempts. Mishaal lives in exile.

 

Legislation

 

Also on Sunday, Saeed Siyaam, a Hamas leader, told Aljazeera that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, will not propose a draft law giving him the authority to dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council.

 

The Palestinian Legislative Council will hold a special session on Monday to discuss laws.

 

Sources at the council have said an amendment may be discussed to give the head of the Palestinian Authority the right to dissolve the council and to call early elections.

 

Hamas has confirmed its refusal to any amendment of the laws.

 

Crossing reopened 

 

The Bait Hanun crossing was
reopened after a bomb attack

 

The Israeli occupation army on Sunday reopened the Bait Hanun crossing in north Gaza Strip enabling Palestinian workers, diplomats and journalists to move through, Palestinian sources said.

 

Israeli forces closed the crossing three days ago after a bombing linked to the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah.

 

Two Palestinian bombers were killed in the attack.