Members of the Hamas movement will still hold key positions in the
nearly formed national unity government of Palestine and according to
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas will not settle for a two-state
solution because it requires Hamas to recognize Israel, a declaration
the movement will still not make. 


"We reject the two-state solution, which is the vision of U.S. President George Bush, because it represents a clear recognition of Israel," Barhoum said.

However, Fatah and Hamas hope that their careful selection of moderates to fill government positions will satisfy enough US demands to lift the economic and diplomatic blockade.

University professor Dr. Mohammad Shabir has accepted a position as the new prime minister. Referring to the stance the new government will take under Shabir’s leadership, he commented, "I will make my position clear after the appointment," he said, but added that he would act "realistically."

Among those Hamas officials keeping their positions are: current Health Minister and Hamas’ initial choice as president, Basim Naim; Education Minister Nasser Al Din Sha’er; and Nayef Roujoub as minister of Islamic Endowments.

Among the possible new officials are: Hamas PLC members Fathi Hamad or Yehya Moussa were nominated to replace Said Siyam as Interior Minister; Dr. Ziad Abu Amr, an academic with close relations to US universities, has been suggested for the Foreign Affairs position, thereby replacing Mahmoud Az Zahar; and against Hamas’ wishes Fatah member Salam Fayyad is said to be the most likely candidate for Ministry of Finance, mainly because he is considered close to the US.

Hamas clearly wants control over domestic affairs and will propose individuals close to their movement for positions such as the interior, education, health and Waqf ministries. However, until now, there have been no discussions or agreements on ministry staffing.

Eleven seats will most likely go to Hamas while Fatah will hold four to eight. The remaining 10 seats will be open for other parliamentary blocs and independents making for a total 24 seats.

Each bloc has one seat to fill. Among the remaining groups are: Independent Palestine Muafata Barghouthi, the Third Way headed by former Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian People's Party, Fida and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Sourced from PNN and Haaretz