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Hamas Announces Formation of New Palestinian Government


The Islamic militant group Hamas is ready to assume power in the Palestinian Authority. Hamas has rejected pressure at home and abroad to moderate its positions.

Hamas Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh announced the formation of a new Palestinian government, but without moderate coalition partners that might have helped the group win international recognition. The defeated and more moderate Fatah party refused to join, because Hamas rejected international demands to renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previous peace agreements.

So, Hamas, which seeks Israel's destruction, will formulate policy on its own. It will hold key Cabinet portfolios, such as foreign affairs and the Interior Ministry, which controls the security forces.

Palestinian analyst Bassam Eid does not expect Hamas to change its militant platform. "I don't think that very soon, Hamas is going to recognize the existence of the state of Israel," said Mr. Eid.

Israel plans to boycott the Hamas government, which it describes as a terrorist regime.

Israel has already cut off $50 million monthly tax payments to the Palestinian Authority, and it hopes that the U.S. and Europe will follow suit.

Israeli spokesman Mark Regev does not rule out military action, if there is an upsurge in terrorism. "I think we want to send a very clear message to this incoming, extremist Palestinian leadership, the new Hamas leadership," said Mr. Regev. "And what we want to say to them is that, if you unilaterally break signed agreements, then you cannot be surprised, if Israel moves to defend its people, and to defend our interests."

Hamas has a message of its own. The group's leader Khaled Mashaal said, if Israel opts for conflict, Hamas is prepared for "all out war."

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