President Abbas accepts Haneya as Palestinian PM
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President Abbas accepts Haneya as Palestinian PM

Under Palestinian law, Haneya will have three weeks to form the Govt, but he can ask for an extension of another two weeks.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2006 12:08 IST

President Mahmoud Abbas has accepted Isma'eel Haneya as the radical Islamic Hamas movement's choice for the post of Palestinian prime minister and said he would formally appoint him to the position.

"We agreed that tomorrow evening at 6:00 pm, President Abbas will hand Haneya a letter appointing him prime minister and charging him with forming the next government," Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar told reporters in Gaza City after a more than three-hour meeting with Abbas on Monday.

Under Palestinian law, Haneya, 44, will have three weeks to form the government, but he can ask for an extension of another two weeks if he fails within that time frame.

Answering a DPA question, however, Haneya expressed confidence he would succeed in his mission.

Hamas, which won 74 out of the 132 seats in the parliamentary elections Jan 25, meanwhile began talks with various factions aimed at forming a broad coalition.

The radical Islamic Jihad movement, which does not recognise the Palestinian Authority (PA) and boycotted the elections, rejected an offer to join, but the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said it was willing to participate.

Earlier, the PA warned of a "choking financial crisis" following an Israeli cabinet decision on Sunday to stop the monthly transfer of some $52 million in custom duties, which Israel collects on its behalf over goods imported via its ports and airport.

Born in Gaza City's Shati (Beach) refugee camp and the former secretary-general of the city's Islamic University, Haneya is considered a relative pragmatic within Hamas whose language is less militant than that of other Hamas leaders.

"We want to form a government that will earn the trust of the parliament and the Palestinian people" and will be in charge both of external and internal affairs, he said.

Haneya said he reassured Abbas in the meeting that visits by Hamas leaders to Arab and Muslim countries in the last few days would bring much needed financial support to the Palestinians.

First Published: Feb 21, 2006 12:08 IST