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Abbas to Form New Government in West Bank, Gaza Strip

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will act to form a new government in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Speaking in Ramallah late Thursday, Mr. Abbas said he will make key decisions to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people. He has suggested he might form a government of technocrats, but the ruling Hamas faction earlier rejected this idea.

Meanwhile, Israel accused Iran of paying a Hamas leader $50 million to prevent the release of an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants in June.

Israel's U.N. ambassador Dan Gillerman said he informed the Security Council Thursday Tehran had paid the bribe to the group's exiled political leader Khaled Meshaal who lives in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Hamas has demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Egypt has been mediating between the two sides for months.

In other news, a senior Lebanese official says the Arabs should resume peace talks with Israel.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri told an Arab television station that peace talks should be based on a Saudi initiative that calls for Israel to relinquish occupied lands for peace.

Berri is a Shi'ite ally of Hezbollah. Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed peace talks with Lebanon. But Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said his country would be the last one to sign a peace deal with the Jewish state.

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