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Hamas-led Cabinet Gets Parliament Approval
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An overwhelming majority among the members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) that convened in both Gaza and Ramallah on Tuesday gave their confidence to the new cabinet formed by Prime Minister designate Ismail Haneya.

Aziz Dweik, speaker of the PLC, announced after the voting that 71 voted in favor of giving the new cabinet their confidence, while 36 members voted against the motion and 2 sustained.

The number of the PLC members is 132, where 109 who voted, while 13 members are imprisoned in Israeli jails and 10 were absent.

According to the protocol of the Palestinian basic law, right after the voting, Haneya and his 24 cabinet ministers as well as the cabinet's secretary should do the sworn-in before the president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

Dweik announced that the PLC would hold a session on Wednesday for the sworn-in ceremony, where President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to attend upon his return from an Arab summit in Sudan.

"A special session would be held on Wednesday, also in both Gaza and Ramallah via the video conferencing system to enable the new cabinet to go for the sworn-in where president Abbas is scheduled to attend," said Dweik.

Palestinian sources disclosed that Abbas would return home later on Tuesday. On Wednesday he would join the PLC session that would be held in Ramallah and would contact Gaza Strip PLC members through the video conference as usual.

Right after the overwhelming voting that Haneya's cabinet won the PLC confidence, PLC Hamas members screamed "Allah Akbar" (God is Great) and "Thanks to Allah" (God).

"It is the first time ever for Hamas movement, which was founded in 1987 as a resistance movement, to lead the Palestinian people in a government that it had formed," said Nabil Abu Safeya, a resident from Gaza. 

He added that "we wish them all success, and we hope that they would be able to carry this heavy responsibility and change our miserable economical and political situations."

Before the PLC members vote, Haneya defended the political platform of his government, where he criticized those who said Haneya's cabinet didn't mention the word resistance.

"Okay, I would change this paragraph in the text of my program and I will say that resistance is the right of the occupied people to end the occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state," said Haneya. 

He added that "those who criticized my platform, depending on a previous position, I would tell them the platform was born from resistance, and I mentioned the word resistance in more than a position." 

Haneya recalled on the American administration to be more reasonable and not to launch statement and previous judges on a Palestinian cabinet elected via polling stations.

He also clarified that the PLC would finalize discussing his plat form and hoped his cabinet would gain the PLC confidence. He respected the opinion of every one whether they gave the cabinet a vote of confidence or vote of no confidence. 

The PLC convened on Tuesday in both Gaza and the West Bank city of Ramallah, where it started three-day sessions to listen to Haneya's cabinet platform, to debate its text and go for a confidence voting to the cabinet. 
Leaders of five opposition parties in the PLC, except the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), voted against Haneya's cabinet, saying it didn't say that the PLO is the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

The parties, including Fatah movement, the Alternative List, the Independent Palestine and the Third way had said they would not approve Haneya cabinet that was presented to the PLC for a confidence voting. 

Qais Abdel Kareem, a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said that the Alternative party, which represents the DFLP, wouldn't give Haneya cabinet a vote of confidence.
Jameel Majdalawi, head of Abu Ali Mustafa party, representing the Poplar Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said that "despite the disagreement in the political platform of Haneya and the platform of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), but our party will give the cabinet a vote of confidence." 

He, however, called on Haneya to consider a formation of a Palestinian national coalition that observes the people's highest interests.

Fatah movement's members, whose movement achieved the second place in the PLC following Hamas, had said that they wouldn't give the new cabinet their confidence because of the political disputes between Hamas platform and the PLO platform.   

The PLC, which Hamas overwhelmed after the January legislative election, held a special session on Monday, when Haneya presented his cabinet as well as its political, economical and security platforms for a confidence vote. 

It seemed certain that Haneya's cabinet should get a confidence vote since his Hamas group has a majority of 74 seats in the 132-member legislature, even if the entire non-Hamas members vote against it.

(Xinhua News Agency March 29, 2006)

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