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Hamas to Form Cabinet, Loser Fatah Not Joining
RAMALLAH, West Bank, January26 , 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was expected Thursday, January26 , to ask the resistance group Hamas, tipped to have swept the legislative polls and secured a parliamentary majority, to form the new cabinet, amid increasing signals from his defeated Fatah that it would not join any coalition government.
"President Abbas will give Hamas the task of forming the government, in which Fatah will not participate," chief negotiator Saeb Erakat, a leading Fatah member, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"The victors must assume their responsibilities towards our people in every field -- political, security, economic and national," he added.
The Palestinian Central Election Commission said the vote count had not been completed and that it would make an official announcement later on Thursday evening.
However, officials in both Hamas and Fatah concurred the resistance group appeared to have captured a large majority of seats in Wednesday's legislative elections, the first in a decade.
Acknowledging the defeat, Premier Ahmed Qorei and his cabinet ministers resigned Thursday.
"This is the choice of the people. It should be respected," he said.
But the government remained in office in a caretaker capacity.
Under the law, Abbas must ask the largest party in the new parliament to form the next government.
Winner Hamas said it remains ready to negotiate with Abbas and other parties on political partnership.
"Hamas is not going to work alone, but with the other groups who represent the Palestinian people," chief candidate Ismail Haniya said Thursday.
"We will negotiate with Abu Mazen (Abbas) and other parties over forming a political partnership.
"We want to work with you together because the challenges facing the Palestinian people are great and the fight is still long," he said, addressing his remarks to long-dominant Fatah.
"We will meet Abu Mazen and other groups, and doubtless we will reach a satisfactory formula for all the Palestinian people," Haniya said.
He added that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal had telephoned Abbas from Damascus to "thank him for the elections", telling him that the ballot had "opened the door to national unity".
"He (Meshaal) stressed Hamas insists on a partnership with all the Palestinian factions, especially our brothers in Fatah," Hamas said on its Web site.
Haniya also said he would consult all resistance factions on future political partnerships.
Before the elections, Hamas said it does not want to govern alone, and would prefer to bring Fatah into a coalition.
Haniya called on Washington to respect the result of the elections.
"I call on the American administration to respect ... the will of the Palestinian people and the result of the ballot."
Israel and the United States have said they would not deal with a government led by Hamas.
As political maneuvering gathered steam, long-dominant Fatah signaled it might leave Hamas bearing the burden of governing alone and set itself up as the main opposition party in parliament.
"We will set as the loyal opposition in parliament," Erekat told Al-Jazeera news channel.
Jibril Al-Rajoub, national security advisor and a senior Fatah official, agreed.
"Fatah rejects participating in a government formed by Hamas," he told Reuters. "Hamas has to take up its responsibilities. Fatah will act as a responsible opposition."
Nabil Amr, a former minister and leading Fatah member, was of the same position.
"Fatah will not join any government under Hamas," he told the Doha-based broadcaster.
Abbas was backing the push for Fatah to stay out of any Hamas-led cabinet, sources close to him said, adding that Fatah's executive would have the final say.
Before the election, members of Fatah's younger leadership generation had suggested forming a national unity government with Hamas following the ballot.
Fatah has held a near-monopoly on power since the Palestinian Authority was created in1994 .
But it has been divided by infighting in recent years, and its future is now uncertain.
Pundits believe many Palestinians voted to punish Fatah for corruption and mismanagement.