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Hamas Renews Calls for Unity Government Amid Growing Financial Crisis


Hamas has renewed calls for other Palestinian political factions to join in a unity coalition government. The appeal comes amid a growing financial crisis and internal unrest.

It's not the first time Hamas called on other political parties to join it in forming a broad-based unity government. The militant Islamic group did so almost immediately after its surprise election victory in January. But, it found no takers and in the end formed a new government on its own.

But, facing increasing isolation, a financial crisis and internal unrest, Hamas is again in talks with some Palestinian factions in an attempt to draw them into fold.

Kayed el Ghoul, a leading member of the radical P.F.L.P., the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, confirmed his group is talking with Hamas.

Speaking on Palestinian radio, El Ghoul said it's too early to say what the outcome might be, but he said he remained optimistic if Hamas would to try to find common ground with other factions to bring them into the government.

The mainstream Fatah faction, which lost its hold on power in the January elections, has not participated in the talks. And, the Independent Palestine party of longtime human rights activist Mustafa Barghouti has also not taken part.

Barghouti told Palestinian radio, he was surprised to hear about the talks, noting his group had not even been invited.

Despite its impressive election victory, Hamas has not really been able to govern. It was quickly shunned by Israel, the United States and the European Union, all of whom consider Hamas a terrorist organization. Israel suspended the transfer of tax and customs duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinians and Washington and EU cut off direct funding to the newly elected Hamas-led government, even though they promised to continue humanitarian assistance.

And so, the government has been unable to pay civil servants, police and security forces, which in some cases has resulted in violent protests, with masked gunmen storming ministry buildings demanding their pay.

Hamas did get a reprieve on Sunday when Iran announced it would give the Palestinian Authority $50 million in aid. The Gulf state of Qatar announced Monday it would also also give $50 million to the Palestinian government and Russia has also said it would provide emergency assistance as well.

Despite growing pressure and difficulties, Hamas remains defiant, saying it will not give in to Western demands that it renounce violence, recognize Israel and recognize previous peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

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