Palestinian Prime Minister: Unity government in less than three weeks
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Friday he hopes to form a new coalition government with Fatah in less than three weeks. On Thursday, Haniyeh and his government resigned and President Mahmoud Abbas appointed him to form the new cabinet, based on last week's understandings in the Saudi city of Mecca.
According to the Palestinian law, Haniyeh has five weeks to present a new Cabinet. During that period, Hamas and Fatah need to resolve disputes over control of the security forces and whether to dismantle a separate Hamas militia.
At a sermon Friday at a Gaza City mosque, Haniyeh stated he hoped to form a new government well before the deadline. "We hope the government will be produced in less than three weeks and presented to the esteemed parliament" for approval, he said.
It remains to be seen if the Bush administration accepts the new team. Speaking to reporters in Washington on Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did not say the U.S. would boycott the new government, though she said she has seen no evidence that it intends to meet the international demands. Peace efforts were "obviously more complicated because of the uncertainties surrounding the national unity government," she said.
Rice spoke ahead of a trip to the Middle East for a three-way summit with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday.