London, Asharq Al-Awsat- After securing a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council that exceeded all its expectations (76 out of 132 seats), the HAMAS movement finds itself with the responsibility of forming a government, which it prefers to be a government of national unity or “political partnership”.
Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas (Abu Mazin) announced that he would invite Hamas to form the government since it is the party with the majority in parliament. Isma’il Haniyah, who topped the HAMAS list of winners and one of the movement’s senior leaders in Gaza who worked as the secretary of its late founder Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, said he agreed with President Abu Mazin to meet during the next two days. Speculations increased meanwhile on who would be forming the government. Some circles say Haniyah is the strongest candidate while other parties mention Dr. Mahmud al-Zahhar as the likely one to occupy this post. Third parties rule out Al-Zahhar because they say he suffers from health problems believed to be stomach cancer.
However, a Hamas official in Damascus told Asharq al-Awsat that the movement has not decided yet whether it would accept to form the government or not despite Abu-Mazin’s talk about his intention to ask it to form one. He added, “The movement is still in the stage of consultations and is supposed to make up its mind in the coming two days. If it does agree to form a government, it will consult with and talk to the other factions and figures. We would be repeating a failed experiment if we do not consult.”
The official ruled out the likelihood of Khalid Mishal, the chairman of the movement’s political bureau, forming the government, even if he returned to the homeland, something which is unlikely to happen at present, despite what the Jerusalem-based “Al-Quds” newspaper reported yesterday. He said that Khalid Mishal is not after the post. Citing sources close to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas that it did not name, “Al-Quds” newspaper said contacts were underway between Mishal, the EU, and the PA to facilitate his return to Gaza and noted that the EU promised to ask the United States to intervene with Israel not to prevent Mishal’s return to Gaza. It added that it also learned “that next week might see a meeting between Mishal and Abu Mazin in Gaza” and stressed that HAMAS would be reorganizing its internal affairs and political programs so as to shoulder its responsibilities after its big victory in the elections and that this could not be achieved without the return of its leaders to the Palestinian territories to exercise authority.
However, the Damascus source denied categorically that there are such contacts and said such talk is premature. It did not however rule out efforts by the movement to return the largest possible number of capable members to take up their positions.