The United States will lift a direct ban on aid to the government once the new administration is announced, a US envoy told Abbas during a meeting in the West Bank.

"Most crucial will be the position of the minister of interior who will be in charge of security in the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip if possible," Walid Batrawi, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Ramallah, said.

"We might see some Fatah officials but, of course, none of the Hamas people because the Palestinian Authority and the president consider that Hamas has carried out a coup."

Separation ruled out

Ismail Haniya, the former prime minister who has refused to accept his firing, has ruled out setting up a separate state ruled by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

"Gaza belongs to all the Palestinian people and not just Hamas," he said in an interview with France's Le Figaro newspaper.

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"Separation is not on the agenda and never will be."

Late on Friday, Khaled Meshaal, the exiled political leader of Hamas, called for dialogue with Abbas and Fatah.

At a news conference in the Syrian capital Damascus he said Hamas had no option but to use force to wrest control of Gaza in fighting that killed dozens of Palestinians.

"What is needed now is to deal with the Palestinian schism. Hamas is for Arab sponsorship of a dialogue in the Palestinian national interest.

 

"The lack of security drove the crisis toward explosion. What happened in Gaza was a necessary step. The people were suffering from chaos and lack of security and this treatment was needed."


Meshaal called for the Palestinian security forces to be reorganised and said elements in Fatah that he did not want to identify were to blame for the lack of security in Gaza.

"We need to restructure the Palestinian security apparatus to be a national force chosen according to merit and not on a factional basis," he said.

Security challenges

Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian MP, said the new cabinet faced daunting challenges, principally "to ensure the rule of law and to prevent the spread of lawlessness from Gaza to the West Bank."

The security challenge was highlighted when the head of the Palestinian Authority police force, who is loyal to Abbas's Fatah faction, banned officers in Gaza from cooperating with the rival Hamas movement.

Haniya has refused to accept his
dismissal by Abbas [AFP]
"General Kamal al-Sheikh has ordered all police in the Gaza Strip to cease work and not to cooperate with the interior minister and the sacked government," a statement released on Saturday said.  

"All those who disobey these orders will have to assume their responsibilities before the law and will be considered as mutineers who refuse direct orders from their hierarchy."

In the previously peaceful West Bank, armed men from the Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades stormed the parliament building and tried to seize the Hamas-backed deputy speaker of parliament.

"There was a scuffle but he wasn't kidnapped," a spokesman for Hassan  Khreisheh said.

Members of the group have also destroyed offices at an Islamic school, a cultural centre, charities, local television and local radio in the city of Nablus in apparent revenge attacks, witnesses and Hamas officials said.

A senior commander called on Hamas members in the territory to hand in their weapons to the Palestinian Authority.

"After what happened in Gaza, Hamas has become a banned organisation in the West Bank and all of its arms must be handed over to the Palestinian Authority as these arms are now illegitimate," Zakaria al-Zubeidi, an al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander in Jenin, said.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies