Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday accepted Hamas's candidate, Mohamed Shubair as the new Prime Minister of the proposed Palestinian national unity government, official Palestinian sources said.
The sources revealed that the Islamic Hamas movement had presented a list of nominees to lead the new government, adding that President Abbas had picked Shubair as the new premier.
Shubair, an academic professor and President of the Islamic University of Gaza till 2005, met on Saturday night with Abbas. Shubair, though close to Hamas, did not belong to any political faction.
Shubair has been nominated to lead the new national unity government, replacing the current Hamas-led one headed by current Prime Minister and senior Hamas leader Ismail Haneya.
Officials in the Hamas movement expected the new national unity government to be formed by the end of November, after portfolios are distributed and issues relating to the government's political platform are settled.
Also on Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that the army is operating on a wider scope than before within the Gaza Strip to stop Qassam rockets.
Peretz told the weekly cabinet meeting that he had approved every operation suggested by the Israel Defense Forces. Furthermore, he ordered the renewed development of an anti-rocket system that will hopefully curb the Qassam rocket fire striking the south of Israel from Gaza.
The comments came after several cabinet ministers criticized him of restraining the IDF and hindering an expanded military operation in Gaza.
"The ministers' harsh words create a false impression that we are not doing everything necessary. We are acting wisely and constantly examining the operations and actions, out of regard to what is necessary and what the results may be, not as a reaction to criticism and protests," he was quoted by Ha'aretz as saying.
Peretz said that he had instructed the Chief of Staff Dan Halutz to expand military action in Gaza. "The IDF will act in initiatives rather than responses," Peretz said, "however, we will not go needlessly into the net of Gaza."
Earlier Sunday afternoon, two Qassam rockets landed in an industrial area in western Negev, damaging some buildings but wounding no-one.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the UN should condemn Palestinian militants instead of Israel over the errant killing of over 19 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the local Yedioth Aharonot newspaper reported.
"Those who fire to harm civilians for a long period of time should be condemned," Olmert said. "Only those who roll their eyes and preach morality feel that (Israel) should be condemned," he added.
The prime minister also stressed that his government would fully support theIDF. "The entire government has complete confidence in the army," he said.
The UN General Assembly on Friday overwhelmingly adopted a resolution decrying the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip and calling for its immediate cessation and for removal of all troops.
The resolution was approved by a vote of 156 to 7 with six abstentions. The United States, Israel and Australia were among those who voted against it.
An emergency special session was convened at the request of Arab delegations and the Non-Aligned Movement, following a US veto on Nov. 11 of an Arab-sponsored draft resolution that would have condemned the deadly Israeli attack in Gaza and urged an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from there.
(Xinhua News Agency November 20, 2006)