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Hamas nominates Haniyeh as Palestinian PM
Updated: 2006-02-19 21:19

A Gaza lawmaker seen as a leader of Hamas' pragmatic wing was nominated Sunday to be Palestinian prime minister.

Hamas nominates Haniyeh as Palestinian PM
Gaza lawmaker Ismail Haniyeh, center, is seen after Friday prayers in Shati refugee camp in Gaza, in this Feb. 17, 2006 file photo. Haniyeh, a prominent Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, was nominated Sunday, Feb. 19, 2006, to be Palestinian prime minister. The militant group announced the nomination in a text message, a day after its members were sworn into the new Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament. [AP]

The militant group announced Ismail Haniyeh's nomination in a text message, a day after its members were sworn into the new Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament. The nomination was widely expected.

Haniyeh, 46, has good working relations with the rival Fatah movement.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was expected later Sunday to formally give Haniyeh the task of putting together a new Cabinet. Haniyeh would then have three weeks to submit a government to Abbas for approval.

Addressing the parliament on Saturday, Abbas said he expected Hamas to honor existing peace accords with Israel and halt violence. Hamas leaders rejected those calls, but signaled a willingness to compromise.

On Sunday, Israeli acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ruled out any contact with a Hamas-led government. The group has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and remains committed to Israel's destruction.

Born in Gaza's Shati refugee camp, Haniyeh graduated from Gaza City's Islamic University in 1987 with a degree in Arabic literature and became a close associate of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

Haniyeh was expelled by Israel to south Lebanon in 1992, returned to Gaza a year later and became the dean of the Islamic University. In 1998, he took charge of Yassin's office.

A pragmatist, he served as a liaison between Hamas and Palestinian Authority, established in 1994 and dominated by the rival Fatah movement.

He rose to prominence after Israel's assassinations in 2004 of Yassin and Yassin's successor, Abdel Aziz Rantisi. He has been a member of the political leadership of Hamas since the 1990s.

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