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Hamas Says It Will Decide Palestinian Leadership



08 February 2006

Leaders of the Islamic militant group Hamas wrapped up several days of meetings in Cairo with a warning to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas not to make changes in Palestinian government without their approval. the Hamas leaders also repeated they will not recognize Israel.

Hamas leaders ended three days of talks without naming a prime minister. At a closing press conference the militant group's political chief Khaled Mashaal issued a warning to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, not to make any major decisions without first consulting Hamas.

Mr. Mashaal says leaders in the Palestinian Authority should not issue decrees or make decisions without consulting Hamas. He says if that happens Hamas will not accept them.

Mashaal also says Hamas will not disarm or renounce violence because he says Hamas is obliged to resist what Hamas regards as Israel's occupation of Palestinian land.

In media interviews this week, the Hamas leader has said his group could enter into what he describes as a long-term truce with Israel if Israel withdrew to its pre-1967 borders.

Palestinian newspapers have been reporting growing tensions between Hamas and leading members of the Palestinian Authority, most of whose members belong to the rival Fatah Party of President Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah was soundly defeated by Hamas in legislative elections on January 25, which saw Hamas take 74 seats in the 132-seat Palestinian parliament.

Hamas leaders say they want to form a coalition government with other parties, but no agreement has been reached on how to do so. The Palestinian Legislative Council is scheduled to convene on February 16.




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