Palestinian mainstream Fatah and Hamas movements have reached an initial deal on portfolios of the new Palestinian coalition government, local independent Maan news agency reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, the deal authorizes 10 portfolios for Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) and 6 for Fatah in the upcoming government of national unity.
Four ministries would be shared between the other political groups while the remaining five portfolios would be commissioned for independent ministers.
Maan quoted a undisclosed sources as saying that Mohammed Shubair is likely confirmed to be the new prime minister.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would arrive in Gaza next Thursday, said the sources, adding his visit aims at adding final touches to the formation of the new government.
However, there was no immediate confirmation of Abbas' office in Ramallah about the news.
Abbas is currently visiting Jordan and will head to Egypt later Wednesday to hold talks with Jordanian and Egyptian officials on the latest developments in the Palestinian territories and in the region as a whole.
Under the emerging coalition agreement, foreign policy would handled by Abbas It was unclear whether this division of labor would satisfy Western demands. Officials from the "Quartet" of Mideast mediators the US, European Union, Russia and the United Nations are scheduled to meet in Egypt today.
Meanwhile, Hamas said the movement won't recognize Israel even after a new national unity government takes power. But it suggested the emerging coalition would be free to stake out a more moderate position.
Hamas apparently hopes this ambiguity will allow it to preserve its anti-Israel ideology but open the door to an easing of crippling international sanctions, imposed to pressure the current, Hamas-led government to moderate. Despite the sanctions, Hamas has repeatedly rejected international demands to recognize Israel, renounce violence and respect past peace accords.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top official in Hamas' exiled leadership in Syria, called the international demands to recognize Israel "illegal and illegitimate." But he suggested Hamas would not set the tone for the next government's policies on Israel.
"It's not Hamas that will pronounce on this subject," he said in a telephone interview from Syria.
Abbas's aides say he will insist on a political program that explicitly endorses interim peace deals with Israel and a two-state solution to the conflict. Some Hamas officials have said the new government's platform might be left vague, but it is unclear whether that will satisfy Israel and the United States.
(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency November 15, 2006)