Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is likely to head the new PA cabinet.
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is likely to head the new Palestinian Authority cabinet, sources close to Hamas said on Thursday.
Hamas prefers to form a coalition with Fatah or other Palestinian factions. But Fatah representatives ruled out the possibility of joining a Hamas-led cabinet, saying they would become an opposition force in the newly-elected parliament.
Haniyeh, who ran at the head of Hamas's Change and Reform List, will replace outgoing Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, who submitted his resignation after learning that Hamas had scored a landslide victory in the parliamentary election.
Some Palestinians predicted that Hamas might ask former finance minister Salam Fayyad to head the new cabinet, so as to avoid a boycott by the international community.
Fayyad's Third Way List won two seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. He is a widely respected figure with close ties to many world leaders, including Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Hamas may therefore use him as a bridge to Israel and the rest of the world.
It was not yet clear Thursday what would happen with the PA's Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the security forces. Interior Minister Nasser Youssef, a veteran Fatah official, is unlikely to remain in his post under a Hamas prime minister.
As security chief, Youssef was responsible in the mid-1990s for a massive crackdown on Hamas and Islamic Jihad members in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A new interior minister would have to appoint security commanders, and it remained to be seen if some of the Fatah chiefs would agree to give up their posts.
It was also unclear what would happen with Palestinian ambassadors around the world. Almost all current ambassadors are Fatah loyalists and, according to some Palestinians, many of these will be replaced by the new cabinet.
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