Hamas lawmakers based in Gaza will not attend the official ceremony due to travel restrictions imposed by Israel. They will take part in the swearing in via videoconferencing, Israel Radio reported. Palestinian sources told Israel Radio that access to Ramallah has been cut off and that security inspections at checkpoints and passageways have been intensified. Israel Radio quoted sources as reporting that most Hamas parliament members from the West Bank arrived in Ramallah three days ago. The PLC holds 132 seats, 74 of which will be occupied by Hamas. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah fwon a total of 45 seats in last month’s parliamentary elections. Mahmoud Zahar, a fiery Hamas leader newly elected to serve in parliament, called Saturday a „historic day,” and pledged that Hamas would serve the Palestinian people. „We have to be the new servants for the Palestinian issue, the Palestinian detainees, the Palestinian land, the Holy Land and also for the people,” Zahar told reporters when he arrived at the Gaza government building where the parliament session was to be held via videoconference. In his speech to parliament, Abbas is to lay out the cabinet’s basic policies as well as ask Hamas to recognize agreements with Israel and abandon violence. He is not expected to ask Hamas to recognize Israel. Following the swearing-in of the new parliament, Abbas is expected to summon representatives of the various parliamentary factions to his office for consultations and to appoint Ismail Haniyeh prime minister. However, since Haniyeh is in Gaza and cannot reach Ramallah, the official appointment will probably be delayed until next week. On Thursday, Hamas nominated Haniyeh, a senior leader of the organization’s Gaza Strip branch, to form the next Palestinian cabinet. Haniyeh is expected to be officially asked to form the government by Abbas following the first session of the new parliament Saturday, via videoconferencing, in Ramallah and Gaza. In his speech to parliament, Abbas is to lay out the cabinet’s basic policies as well as ask Hamas to recognize agreements with Israel and abandon violence. He is not expected to ask Hamas to recognize Israel. Following the swearing-in of the new parliament, Abbas is expected to summon representatives of the various parliamentary factions to his office for consultations and to appoint Haniyeh prime minister. However, since Haniyeh is in Gaza and cannot reach Ramallah, the official appointment will probably be delayed until next week. .
An aide to Abbas told Israel Radio on Saturday that the chairman will present a letter to the incoming prime minister detailing the government’s policies, namely adherence to the road map, a recognition of Israel’s right to exist, and embarking on a non-violent struggle against the Israeli occupation. Haniyeh will have three weeks in which to form the government, and may receive an extension of two weeks, according to Palestinian law. Haniyeh’s associates said he hoped to accomplish the task within two weeks. Sources close to Hamas said the movement will seek to involve other groups, including Fatah, in the government, and will appoint two women and a Christian as ministers. With Haniyeh’s appointment, the PA cabinet’s activities are expected to move from Ramallah to the Gaza Strip, while the parliament will operate primarily from Ramallah under the leadership of Hamas’ Abdel-Aziz Dweik. With these two appointments, Hamas appears to have decided to appoint its own members to leadership positions following its January election victory. Meanwhile, Jibril Rajoub, Abbas’ security adviser, said Thursday in an interview with Israel Radio that some of the PA security forces will be transfered to Hamas, since by PA law they are controlled by the cabinet and interior minister. However, appointments and promotions are vetted by Abbas’ bureau. When the law was passed, the assumption was that Fatah would control both the chairman’s office and the cabinet, but this is no longer the case. Fatah and Hamas have been holding talks in which the latter said it would not enter into a conflict with Abbas over control of the most powerful security force, preventive security, but would demand control over the police to allow it to influence public order. Armed Palestinians in Gaza demand overdue salaries About 200 armed Palestinian policemen, some firing in the air, marched on Saturday toward Gaza’s government complex, demanding their overdue salaries just hours before a new Hamas-led parliament was to be sworn in. The policemen, who were hired just two months ago, said they have yet to be paid for their services. They headed toward the building where Gaza’s parliament meeting was to be held. The Gaza lawmakers – barred by Israel from reaching the West Bank city of Ramallah – will participate in the parliament session by videoconference