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Palestinian gov’t ‘will need parliament approval’

By Agencies - May 14,2014 - Last updated at May 14,2014

A new Palestinian government will need the approval of the Hamas-dominated parliament, the Islamist movement's prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reported.

Hamas signed a reconciliation deal last month with the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which is dominated by its bitter rival Fateh, in a surprise move that aims to overcome a years-long intra-Palestinian split.

"Any government that does not obtain the confidence of the parliament will have no constitutional legality, and Fateh and Hamas have agreed on this," Haniyeh said in a speech to Hamas MPs in Gaza.

"The legislative council [parliament] will also monitor the consensus government's work," he said.

Hamas has dominated the Palestinian parliament since winning a landslide victory in the last parliamentary election, held in 2006.

But the US and Europe have since backed the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fateh, and boycotted the Islamist movement.

Under the terms of the April 23 reconciliation deal, the two sides would work together to form an “independent government” of technocrats, to be headed by Abbas, that would pave the way for long-delayed elections.

Representatives from both Fateh and Hamas have met several times for talks on a final line-up for the government to end their division after Hamas expelled Fateh from Gaza in a week of deadly clashes in 2007.

The reconciliation agreement incensed Israel, putting the final nail in the coffin of faltering US-led peace talks between Israel and Abbas’ Palestinian Authority.

A senior Fateh official arrived in Gaza City on Tuesday for talks on forming a unity government, according to AFP.

Meanwhile, Hamas on Wednesday cleared out of the private Gaza residence of Abbas, in the most concrete sign yet that the rivals are moving towards reconciliation, The Associated Press reported.

The Islamic Hamas took over the residence when it seized Gaza from the Western-backed Abbas in 2007, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank. Since then, the rivals have become entrenched in their respective territories, setting up separate governments.

On Wednesday, Hamas security forces removed belongings from the Abbas villa in Gaza City. They loaded mattresses, desks and chairs onto pickup trucks and drove out of the gated compound.

The security forces, which had used the compound as a base, barred camera crews and photographers from filming or taking pictures as the items were driven away, but later allowed them into several rooms on the ground floor.

A modest living room with a flat-screen TV was devoid of decorations, but two large photo albums on a shelf contained pictures of Abbas with various leaders and officials, including former US mediator Dennis Ross.

Iyad Al Bozum, a spokesman for the interior ministry in Gaza, confirmed that security forces cleared their belongings from the residence, but that a formal handover of the villa requires another government decision.

“Our presence there during the past seven years was to protect the place,” he said.

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