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Hamas Fails to Secure Partners for New Palestinian Government


The Islamic militant group Hamas has ended a series of coalition talks after failing to secure any rival Palestinian factions as partners in a new government.

But Hamas officials said Thursday the group plans to form a government on its own and present a cabinet to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a few days.

Mr. Abbas' Fatah party has refused to join a Hamas-led government, saying the group must first renounce violence and accept past peace accords with Israel.

Hamas, which won Palestinian elections in January, has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings against Israeli targets since the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in 2000.

Meanwhile, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat called on the United States and Britain to press Israel for the return of six militants seized in a raid on a Palestinian prison earlier this week.

Israel says it will try the militants in Israel.

Five of the captured militants, including Palestinian radical Ahmed Saadat, are allegedly responsible for the 2001 murder of Israel's then-tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi. They had been held at the prison under the supervision of U.S. and British monitors. When the monitors pulled out, Israel mounted its attack.

Earlier today, an Israeli soldier died in a gun battle with Palestinian militants holed up in a house in the West Bank town of Jenin. Israel says it captured one of the militants, and that four others surrendered.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.
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