Abbas asks Hamas to form cabinet, recognize accords with Israel
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday asked Hamas to form the next Palestinian government, but demanded that the movement recognize existing peace accords and hold negotiations with Israel.
According to the AP, Abbas spoke at the opening session of the new Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament.
The Palestinian leader said the Hamas victory in last month's election and the defeat of his Fatah Party have led to a new reality. "Therefore, it (Hamas) will be asked to form the new government," Abbas stated. "On my part, you will find all the cooperation and encouragement you need, because our national interest is our first and final goal, and is above any individual faction."
Abbas asked Hamas to form the next government as quickly as possible. On its part, Hamas said its choice for prime minister is Ismail Haniyeh, who in the past served as a liaison between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas warned Hamas leaders they must recognize the interim autonomy agreements with Israel, known as the Oslo Accords. Abbas said he respects freedom of expression. "But we have not and will not accept any questioning of the accords' legitimacy," he said. "Indeed, from the hour they were endorsed, they became a political reality to which we remain committed."
He also said that a future Palestinian government would have to abide by his policies. "We, as presidency and government, will continue our commitment to the negotiating process as the sole political, pragmatic and strategic choice through which we reap the fruit of our struggle and sacrifices over long decades," he said.
The parliament session was being held simultaneously in Gaza City and in the West Bank city of Ramallah, with a hookup by videoconference, because Israel has banned lawmakers from traveling between the two territories.
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