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Hard-liners fill Hamas posts

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Hamas said Saturday it had completed the formation of its government without succeeding to bring in moderate parties, a step that looked likely to only increase the chances of international isolation.

The narrow government to be presented to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at a meeting today could bring on crippling economic sanctions that the World Bank has warned would devastate the poverty-stricken Palestinian territories.

Abbas will approve the Hamas government, which does not include his pragmatic Fatah Party, presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh said.

But he will warn the Islamic militant group, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, that their refusal to moderate their hard-line positions could “get them into trouble,” the spokesman said.

Hamas’ Cabinet lineup has not been made public, but officials in the group said it would hold onto key posts including the foreign, interior and finance ministries.

Abbas was elected separately last year to a four-year term and wields considerable authority. However, he cannot impose his own Cabinet lineup on Hamas, which swept January parliament elections and controls an absolute majority in the legislature. Aides said Abbas does not want to cause a full-blown political crisis.


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