Hamas to take control of Palestinian parliament

Hamas will take control of the Palestinian parliament on Saturday, paving the way for it to form the next government amid calls by major world powers for a boycott of the militant Islamist group.

Hamas to take control of Palestinian parliament

The sweeping victory of Hamas in last month's parliamentary election has put it on a collision course with President Mahmoud Abbas's peace policies while Israel is mulling tough new restrictions to pressure a Hamas-led government.

At Saturday's swearing-in of parliament, Abbas will demand that the new government recognise interim peace deals with Israel -- a state the group is formally committed to destroying.

But Abbas will stop short of making such measures a condition for forming a cabinet, a senior Palestinian official said.

"He will clearly tell Hamas he expects its government to pursue the policies of the previous governments, that it must respect the Authority's signed agreements with Israel and pursue peaceful means to resist occupation," the official told Reuters.

Hamas officials have said the group will present its own initiative to parliament -- not necessarily on Saturday -- including a proposal for a long-term truce with Israel if it withdraws from land captured in the 1967 Middle East war and which Palestinians seek for a state.

But Hamas officials said the group would not rescind its call for Israel's destruction or recognise the Jewish state.

Warning of possible turmoil ahead, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that if Hamas's government rejected Abbas's peace policies, "it will be a violation of the constitution, and will lead to a major crisis".

Saturday's swearing in session of parliament's 132 delegates, 74 of whom belong to Hamas, will take place in the West Bank city of Ramallah. A video link will allow delegates in the Gaza Strip to participate.

Hamas won control of the Palestinian Legislative Council in a January 25 parliamentary election, beating Abbas's long-dominant Fatah.

ISRAELI TRAVEL BAN

Israel banned 30 lawmakers in Gaza, all members of Hamas or linked to militant groups, from travelling to Ramallah for Saturday's session in line with existing Israel policy.

It is also considering taking tough measures against a Hamas-led government including banning labourers and goods from entering Israel from Gaza.

Israeli officials said a decision would only be taken once Hamas assumes control of parliament and sets out its policies.

Washington, which has asked the Palestinian Authority to return $50 million in U.S. aid to prevent it from reaching Hamas, cautioned Israel against taking any measures that would make life difficult for the Palestinians.

The United States and other world powers have urged nations to boycott Hamas, which has masterminded nearly 60 suicide attacks against Israel since a 2000 uprising, unless it disarms and recognises the Jewish state and past peace deals.

Defying that call, Russia has said it would invite Hamas to Moscow for talks.

Hamas, which has largely adhered to a truce since March last year, has refused to give up its weapons.

Aziz Dweik, chosen by Hamas as the speaker of the new parliament, said the policies of the new government would be based on "negotiating with the preservation of our right to resist (Israel)".

In the Gaza Strip, about 400 gunmen from a Fatah armed group set fire to tyres and blocked streets in a protest demanding payment of outstanding salaries outside the hall where the new parliamentary delegates will meet in Gaza City.

Reuters

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
Add Comment