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Middle East
Haniya: Unity cabinet next week
Palestinian prime minister says a confidence vote will be sought next Saturday.
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2007 23:11 GMT
The Hamas-led government resigned in February to allow the creation of a unity government [EPA]

Ismail Haniya, the Hamas-appointed Palestinian prime minister, has said a unity government will be announced in the next few days and a cofidence vote sought in parliament next Saturday.

 

Hamas and rival group Fatah agreed in Saudi Arabia a month ago to forge a joint coalition cabinet, a move that ended weeks of factional fighting.

"We will announce the government on Wednesday or Thursday and we will then ask for a vote of confidence in parliament on Saturday," Haniya said.

 

Haniya said he and Mahmoud Abbas, the president, will then travel to Saudi Arabia for a summit aimed at reviving an Arab peace plan launched in 2002.

"We have agreed to finalise the national unity government and we will go to the summit with the government in place and as president and prime minister we will ask the Arab countries to support (the new administration)," Haniya said.

 

"99 per cent agreed"

 

Haniya's comments came after Fatah members shot at the convoy of a Hamas minister in the occupied West Bank, the first serious incident between the two sides since the talks began.

 

In another incident in Gaza City, unidentified gunmen stormed the campus of the pro-Fatah al-Quds University, and shot and wounded a student council member from Fatah, a Palestinian security source said.

 

 Haniya, left, is expected to travel to Saudi
Arabia for a summit with Abbas
Abbas said on Thursday a unity deal was "99 per cent" agreed although he had not yet finalised with Haniya who would be interior minister, a post that controls the powerful security services.

 

The Saudi initiative offered Israel a comprehensive deal with all Arab countries in return for Israel relinquishing land occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

 

If Abbas and Haniya travel together to Saudi Arabia it will be the first time the two men will have appeared side by side together internationally. In Mecca last month they each headed rival groups.

 

Olmert meeting

 

Abbas is due to meet Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, in Jerusalem on Sunday, but officials on both sides sought to play down the chances of progress.

 

Olmert has vowed to boycott the new Palestinian unity government unless it recognises Israel, renounces violence and accepts interim peace deals as demanded by the Quartet of Middle East mediators – Russia, US, EU and the UN.

 

The unity government agreement does not commit the incoming government to abide by Israeli-Palestinian pacts, nor to recognise Israel and renounce violence.

 

But it does contain a vague promise to "respect" previous Israeli-Palestinian pacts.

Source:
Agencies
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