Hamas' top political leader has warned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas against asking
his prime minister to form a new government.
The Islamic Hamas group and Abbas' Fatah movement have held months of negotiations aimed at forming a unity government. But an Abbas aide has signaled that the Egypt-brokered talks had failed, and that the president would soon ask his Prime Minister Salim Fayyad to form a new government without Hamas.
Fayyad had stepped down in March to clear the way for the latest round of unity talks.
Hamas' leader Khaled Mashaal said reconciliation talks were ongoing and warned that such unilateral steps by Abbas would lack legitimacy. He spoke during a meeting of Damascus-based Palestinian groups Saturday.
In an interview with the New York Times published earlier this week, Mashaal attempted to present a more moderate tone.
"I promise the American administration and the international community that we will be part of the solution, period," he was quoted as saying, referring to the role his group would play in resolving the conflict with Israel.
Mashaal added that his organization was eager for a ceasefire with Israel and for a deal that would return kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for many Palestinian prisoners.