Despite declarations to the contrary, the United States does not reject out of hand future contacts with a Hamas-led Palestinian government, Palestinian sources said Sunday.
"There are signals arriving from the U.S. government that it does not reject the possibility of cooperating with a Hamas-led government," the sources claimed.
The sources expressed their confidence that Hamas supporters enlisted by the group in the Arab world will succeed in convincing the Americans to view the group as a party for contacts in the region. They added that a number of other elements in addition to Russia, including Spain and China together with Arab countries, will cooperate and recognize a Hamas-led government.
According to the sources, the U.S. is trying to present a united front along with Israel regarding Hamas in order not to embarrass Olmert during his election campaign. However, the sources said, the Americans do not reject cooperation with Hamas.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday the United States is focusing on conveying a consistent message to Hamas that Israel's right to exist cannot be questioned.
In an interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" Rice said Russian officials promised to insist on the Quartet's stance during their expected meeting with Hamas leaders and demand the group recognize Israel and renounce violence.
A peaceful solution cannot be reached if one party does not believe in the other party's right to exist, Rice said.
Hamas: Fatah resorting to underhanded opportunism
Hamas officials warned Fatah members Sunday against resorting to underhanded opportunism during the last meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council Monday.
The officials claimed that the Council's chairman will try at the last moment to pass a law allowing Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to disband the parliament.
Hamas officials condemned the parliament chairman's decision to man a number of important administrative positions in the parliament with Fatah members, after the positions had not been filled in the past few months.
The Palestinian Legislative Council is expected to convene Saturday for its first meeting with its new members, with all the eyes turned to Hamas' candidate to chair the Council. According to Palestinian law, the Legislative Council chairman replaces the PA chairman should he be unable to perform his duties.
On Saturday, Fatah elected Azzam al-Ahmed to head its faction in the Council. Al-Ahmed defeated former Minister Mohammed Dahlan in the voting.
The election of al-Ahmed, who belongs to the "old guard" that younger members are trying to dismiss, was viewed as an attempt to elect a person that would unite the movement.
In the meantime, Saudi newspaper al-Watan quoted Jordanian sources as saying that an agreement has been reached between the kingdom and Hamas leaders that will pave the way to a return of the movement's senior leaders to Jordan.
According to the report, Hamas' politburo chief Khaled Mashaal and other senior officials will agree to give up their Jordanian citizenship and accompanying rights and settle for a laissez-passer given to Palestinians residing in Jordan.
Yitzhak Benhorin contributed to the report