CAIRO (Reuters) – A leader of the Islamist Hamas group said on Tuesday it was very likely that one of its members would become Palestinian prime minister after winning parliamentary elections last month.
Hamas officials are holding talks in Egypt about forming a new Palestinian government following the group’s landslide victory in the January 25 poll.
They have said they want a new administration to include the defeated Fatah faction, which long dominated Palestinian politics, but had not previously said they expected to secure the post of premier.
Asked whether a Hamas member would become the new prime minister, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told Reuters in Cairo: “This is highly expected.”
But he said it was too soon to talk about names.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, is a member of Fatah, which was heavily defeated in the January elections.
“Given that Hamas is the biggest bloc in the parliament, President Abu Mazen will authorize someone from inside Hamas to form a government,” Haniyeh said.
Hamas won an overall majority of 74 seats in the 132-seat parliament.
The United States and the European Union, which both list Hamas as a terrorist organization, have threatened to cut off aid to any government run by Hamas unless the group renounces violence and abandons its charter commitment to Israel’s destruction.
Abbas has said the new government must respect interim peace deals made by the Palestinian Authority with Israel. Hamas said it would never recognize Israel but might be willing to negotiate terms for a temporary truce with the Jewish state.
Asked if Hamas could form a government without Fatah or other Palestinian political forces, Haniyeh said: “It can, but it wants to strengthen participation (of others).”
Hamas leaders have earlier indicated the group might establish a government of technocrats so as not to compromise the financial aid that props up the near bankrupt Palestinian Authority.