Said Siyam, the Interior Minister of the dissolved government of Hamas and a high-level spokesman for the Hamas movement, stated Monday that the Hamas party and their government, currently ruling in the Gaza Strip, will stop considering Mahmoud Abbas as President of the Palestinian people on January 9th, 2009. By the Palestinian constitution, there should be elections by that day – although none have yet been announced by the Palestinian government.
According to Siyam, the possible participation of the Hamas party in the upcoming Presidential election is something that the party is seriously considering. If the Hamas party participates, it would mark the first time that the party participates in Palestinian presidential elections. In 2006, the Hamas party participated for the first time in legislative elections, and won by a large margin, allowing them to form the government. But the government they formed was never recognized by Israel, the occupying power, and they were unseated in one of the two Palestinian territories (they are still ruling in the Gaza Strip).
Siyam said Monday that the government formed by Hamas, and led by Ismail Haniyya, is constitutional under Palestinian law, and should be recognized. He said that the caretaker government, formed by the Fateh party with Israeli approval in 2007, with Salam Fayyad as its head, is illegal under the Palestinian constitution, as it was never submitted to the Palestinian Legislative Council for approval. As such, the government of Fayyad, which is currently in place in the West Bank, is merely acting as a caretaker government until new elections take place.
In Siyam's statement Monday, he said that Hamas is willing, and has always been willing, to hold talks with the rival Fateh party about a power-sharing agreement that would allow for internal unity among the Palestinian people. But he accused Abbas, the leader of the Fateh party, of being unwilling to participate in these talks in any serious way.
While the Fateh party is in place in the West Bank, and the Hamas party in Gaza, Israeli forces still rule in both places with martial law.
He spoke about the prisoner swap deal currently being negotiated for the release of some, possibly high profile, Palestinian political detainees held by Israel in exchange for the one Israeli soldier held by the Palestinian resistance. Siyam said that the negotiation is now in Egypt's hands, and Hamas will not make any more public statements about it.