Haniyeh tries future PM title on for size

Ismail Haniyeh has all the trappings of a premier.

haniyeh waving 298 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
haniyeh waving 298 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Ismail Haniyeh may not yet be the Palestinian prime minister, but he has all the trappings of a premier. Outside his green-and-white home on a narrow street in the Shateh Refugee Camp, young bearded guards with trench coats concealing 14mm pistols walked back and forth, as scheduled visitors streamed in and out of the Haniyeh residence. With the first Hamas-led Palestinian Legislative Council convening Saturday, Haniyeh held back-to-back appointments to discuss negotiations over the formation of a new government with Fatah and other Palestinian factions. However, by Thursday night it appeared that those negotiations were not reaping the success for which Hamas had hoped. Fatah told Hamas it would join a unity government if Hamas would agree to certain conditions. Fatah member and Palestinian National Security Adviser Jibril Rajoub said Hamas must accept the Oslo Agreements and the Fatah political program. "Jibril Rajoub has made a joint government very difficult to achieve because these conditions contradict Hamas's policy," said Dr. Atef Adwan, a newly-elected Hamas PLC member and a professor of political science at the Islamic University in Gaza, told The Jerusalem Post. "I don't think there is very great hope." Nevertheless, Adwan, an Oxford-graduate, said individual Fatah members are interested in joining the Hamas-led cabinet and that negotiations are under way. Indeed, cars jammed Haniyeh's street, and he barely had time for a break between meetings. Jamila Shanty, Hamas's No. 3 and a professor of psychology at the Islamic University, expressed her sympathy. "Poor Abu Il-Abed," she said, using Haniyeh's nickname. "He is forming the government and everything falls on his shoulders." Shanty, who has spent years encouraging women to get an education and a job, expressed interest in becoming the minister of Social Affairs. "I want to show the world that you can be a religious Muslim and support women's rights," she said. Meanwhile, who would get the controversial job of minister of interior remained in question. The chairman, by Palestinian law, holds authority over most of the security forces, including the National Guard and the intelligence service. However, the interior minister is in charge of the powerful Preventative Security Forces, an anti-terror body which was equipped by the CIA. The Preventative Security Forces are largely made up of highly loyal and highly-trained Fatah members. "According to law, they have the right to take over the security apparatus," Rajoub told Israel Radio, in one of many reaffirmations of Hamas's legal legitimacy. "There is no reason, as long as the law is observed, why Hamas shouldn't control security." Expressing cautious optimism, Rajoub said he believed the election of a new parliament presented an opportunity to work for peace and called on both sides to return to the negotiation table. Noga Martin contributed to this report.