Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ismael Haneya, also a senior leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), handed over Friday Hamas' formal response to the accreditation letter that President Mahmoud Abbas gave him on Feb. 21, which asked Haneya to form the new cabinet.
Haneya presented his response to Abbas when they held a second meeting in less than 24 hours in Gaza City, over discussing the shape and the formation of the new Hamas-led cabinet that Haneya is supposed to form.
Defeating the long dominant Fatah in the Jan. 25 legislative elections, Hamas has taken control of 74 seats in the 132-member parliament.
Two weeks ago, Abbas handed Haneya, who was chosen by Hamas to form the new government, a letter which included an official request to form the cabinet as well as be committed to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) commitments.
Haneya told reporters on Friday afternoon following his meeting with President Abbas that "I handed President Abu Mazen (Abbas) an official letter that included the outlines of the new Palestinian cabinet that I would form within the coming few days."
He denied reports that Abbas' accreditation letter that he received two weeks ago included conditions on forming the new cabinet.
Media reports have said that Abbas had asked Haneya to be committed to the signed agreements with Israel.
"The atmosphere of today meeting was positive and friendly," said Haneya, stressing that he is keen to build up a harmony relationship between the presidency institution and the cabinet based on constructive dialogue.
"We have explained (to Abbas) our vision for the future Palestinian government in the response letter," he said.
"We hope that future relations between Hamas and President Abbas will be based on cooperation and dialogue," he added, without giving further details.
For his part, Abbas confirmed receiving the response letter from Haneya, saying "I received today Mr. Haneya response to my letter of commission I handed him two weeks ago, and I believe that contacts would continue during the coming few days."
The meeting with Haneya was positive and it contained lots of understandings, Abbas told reporters, adding "he (Haneya) has also informed me of the latest efforts toward the formation of a new government."
Abbas said that Haneya briefed him on the last contacts and negotiations Hamas movement had held in the last two weeks with the Palestinian political factions represented in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
"There is a possibility that designated prime minister would need some more time to finalize the legal period of time, which is five weeks, in order to form the cabinet. I don't object finalizing the legal term of time," said Abbas.
The president also said that he had no objection to Haneya's request to extend the deadline to form a new cabinet for two weeks.
In the meantime, Abbas' Fatah movement's bloc chief in the PLC Azzam el-Ahmad lessened from the importance of Haneya's letter of response to President Abbas' letter of commission.
"I believe that handing the letter of response to President Abbas today was too late and he (Haneya) didn't make himself clear concerning the program of the new cabinet he is intending to form, " said el-Ahmad.
"Haneya's letter of response was supposed to be handed over a long time ago, but it seems that Haneya believed that once he forms his cabinet, he could hand over the letter to President Abbas. I believe the response should have been made earlier," he added.
El-Ahmad, who also attended the meeting between Haneya and Abbas, told reporters that President Abbas urged Haneya to continue his talks with other factions in order to be able to form a national coalition cabinet.
He noted that he believes and hopes that there will be a possibility to form a national coalition cabinet, adding Haneya's response to President Abbas' letter was an initial response and doesn't clarify the program of the new cabinet.
According to the Palestinian law, Haneya, who was formally tasked by Abbas with forming a government on Feb. 21, has three weeks to hammer out the cabinet hereafter and two more weeks if needed.
It was not clear yet how Hamas responded to demands made by Abbas in the accreditation letter that Hamas should open talks with Israel and accept interim peace deals.
Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction, has rejected Abbas' demands so far, insisting on armed struggle against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
On Thursday night, a meeting was held between a Fatah delegation headed by el-Ahmad and a Hamas delegation headed by the movement's bloc chief in the PLC Mahmoud al-Zahhar at the latter's home, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement on forming the cabinet.
We can say that the meeting failed, it was a meeting which discussed in depth question. However, there were still so many differences that both of us had never met together, said el-Ahmad.
He hoped that we would resume our meetings and talks in the nearest future and there would be a possibility to form a national coalition cabinet.
This depends on Hamas brothers and not on Fatah movement, he stressed.