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Palestinian Parliament to Convene Saturday


The Islamic militant group Hamas says it will convene the new Palestinian parliament on Saturday, for the purpose of approving a Cabinet.

Hamas spokesmen Sami Abu Zuhri and Mahmoud al-Zahar said Wednesday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to Saturday's session, even though his Fatah faction and the Palestine Liberation Organization oppose the militant group's platform.

In the West Bank town of Ramallah Wednesday, the executive committee of the PLO criticized the Hamas program, saying it does not recognize the organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people both in the occupied territories and the Palestinian diaspora.

Mr. Abbas's Fatah party, a PLO faction, has refused to join Hamas in a coalition government because the Islamic group does not recognize Israel and is not willing to renounce violence.

The parliamentary session could last several days before legislators vote to approve the Hamas ministers.

Once parliament has confirmed them, President Abbas may either approve or veto the appointments.

Earlier in March, Fatah members walked out of parliament after a stormy debate over last-minute measures passed by the previous Fatah-controlled parliament. One measure would have allowed Mr. Abbas to appoint a constitutional court that could overturn Hamas-passed legislation. The legislature then canceled that measure.

Europe and the United States say they will cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority once a Hamas government takes power.

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