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Palestinian Coalition Gov't to Be Formed Before End of August
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A Palestinian national coalition government is likely to be formed before the end of August, Palestinian sources revealed on Thursday.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the government would be consisting of 25 members with the participation of all Palestinian political groups including the Islamic Jihad (Holy War), which didn't take part in January's parliamentary elections.

Forming a new Palestinian coalition government was essential to overcome a crisis worsened after Israel arrested eight Palestinian ministers and at least 20 lawmakers including Aziz Dweik, Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) from the governing Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in the West Bank.

Israel said that they were arrested because the Palestinian militants captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit on June 25 in a cross-border raid.

Hamas and Fatah movement will lead the government in rotation, said the sources, adding that, Hamas, however, demanded the coalition government to be headed only by a Hamas prime minister.

The sources expected that Hamas would get seven ministries in the new government while Fatah would get six.

The new coalition government would be based on the Prisoners' Document of National Accordance which calls for a Palestinian statehood alongside Israel and calls also on keeping the resistance against Israel inside the territories of what would be the future Palestinian state.

On Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he started consultations with his Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haneya on forming a new national unity government.

Hamas, which overwhelmingly won the January legislative elections, failed to form a national coalition government and had alone formed a government in late March.

However, some lawmakers had argued that the parliament would not approve any new government as long as the lawmakers and the Speaker of the PLC Aziz Dweik remained held in Israel.

(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2006)

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