Abbas fires senior Hamas government officials

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has cut his government's last ties with Islamic Hamas men who seized control of the Gaza Strip, rescinding all senior appointments of Hamas loyalists employed by the Palestinian government. After Hamas and Abbas's Fatah agreed in February to form a joint government, Abbas gave some 200 Hamas members top posts in Palestinian government ministries. But on Friday night, Abbas issued a presidential decree invalidating the appointments. Although some Hamas members might remain on the government's payroll of 175,000 people, all senior officials have been dismissed, Abbas's office said. It was not immediately clear why Abbas waited two months since Hamas took over Gaza to take action on the appointments. After the takeover, Abbas set up a Western-backed government based in the West Bank and has been trying to restart peace talks with Israel.