Hamas officials are to submit a new draft programme for a Palestinian coalition government after talks with other factions ended without agreement on forming a broad-based cabinet.
‘We will try to submit a new draft to the other factions this evening that is acceptable to all our brothers,’ Hamas parliamentary spokesman Salah al-Bardawil told reporters after the talks broke up in Gaza City.
‘We hope this new draft programme will allow everybody to join the government and still retain our basic Palestinian rights,’ he added.
Jamil Majdalawi, MP for the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said differences remained on three main points and talks would continue Tuesday.
‘There are still differences between the groups and Hamas on three main points,’ he said, listing them as the Palestine Liberation Organization's 1988 acceptance of a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict, prior accords with Israel and the Basic Law governing the Palestinian Authority.
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and the international community have demanded Hamas recognise Israel, renounce the armed struggle and respect agreements with the Jewish state as a condition for entering government.
‘We agreed to meet again tomorrow after our brothers in Hamas have redrafted and restructured their government programme,’ Majdalawi said.
‘The Basic Law of the Palestinian Authority should be the main point of reference for the government and the policy of the government.
‘The government programme should be committed to signed agreements (with Israel) even though we in the PFLP opposed some of them in the past,’ he added.
Bardawil said Hamas was reluctant to sign up to the PLO's 1988 independence declaration, which explicitly accepted a two-state solution, without any reciprocal move from Israel.
‘If this document gives the occupation a formal status, we are not ready to sign up to it for free without receiving anything in exchange,’ he said.
But he stressed that Hamas was eager to do what it could to accommodate the needs of the Palestinian leadership and the other factions.
‘We will discuss a draft which respects the rights of the Palestinian people, puts no obstacles in the way of the requests of our brothers in Fatah and other factions, and does not put Abbas in difficulty,’ the Hamas spokesman said.
The latest round of meetings came after the leadership's Fatah faction on Saturday rejected a first draft of a government programme which Hamas's prime minister-designate Ismail Haniya handed to Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.
Haniya, who attended the talks in Gaza City for around an hour, said Hamas remained committed to forming a broad coalition and voiced satisfaction with the atmosphere of the talks.
An opinion poll published Monday found a full 87.7 percent of respondents wanted a government involving all parties represented in parliament after Hamas won a landslide victory in a general election on January 25.
‘I wanted to attend this meeting to confirm my personal will and that of Hamas for a national unity cabinet,’ the prime minister-designate said.
‘I heard the demands from all the parties for the cabinet's political programme and I can say the atmosphere was relaxed and responsible.’
On Saturday, the leader of Fatah's parliamentary bloc, Azzam al-Ahmed, warned that the faction was ready to form a minority government or recommend that an independent technocrat become premier if Hamas failed to compromise.
But Bardawil rejected any suggestion that Hamas might not lead the new administration.
‘At the end of all this Hamas will declare the cabinet and we will succeed,’ he insisted.
In the face of the failure to agree a new government programme, Abbas gave Hamas another two weeks to form an administration -- until March 28, the same day as parliamentary elections in Israel.