Haniya asks for two week extension on government formation deadline, Abbas agrees

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, agreed on Friday to a two-week extension of the legal period of forming the new coalition government. The request came from the acting Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyya, in order to have extra time for continuing talks with Palestinian factions and independent figures.Government media spokesperson, Ghazi Hamad, from the Hamas party, stated that Haniyya phoned Abbas and asked him to extend the legal period for forming the government, and that Abbas agreed.

Hamad added that the atmosphere is positive and that there are no obstacles that will hinder the formation of the unity government.

Meanwhile, Haniyya said that the beginning of next week will witness practical steps towards the formation of the government, and might also witness the beginning of constitutional procedures.

In a press conference following Friday prayers at a Gaza mosque, Haniyya said that there are some minor issues that need to be finalized with president Abbas when he returns to the Gaza Strip next week.

Also, Haniyya stated that there is no connection between the Sunday March 11 meeting between Abbas and the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and his meeting with Abbas next Monday.

The Monday Abbas-Haniyya meeting will focus on national issues and the figures and parties participating in the upcoming unity government.

Haniyya also said that the upcoming Minister of Interior will be a figure proposed by Hamas after consulting with president Abbas.

Moreover, Haniyya called on the European Union to recognize the Mecca Agreement since it reflects the Palestinian consensus.

“We hope that the EU will deal with the new government as a legitimate body that represents the Palestinian will”, Haniyya stated, “We hope that the siege will be lifted”.

Commenting on the Israeli decision not to transfer the Palestinian money it is withholding, Haniyya said that this is “piracy” since the money belongs to the Palestinian people, and that the government and the president have the right to receive it.

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Saed Bannoura

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