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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hamas Submits Cabinet to Vote

GAZA CITY, Gaza -- Hamas called Monday for talks with Western powers to try to reach a "just peace" in the Middle East but showed no sign of softening its stance on Israel as it presented its government to the Palestinian parliament.

Hamas' prime minister-designate, Ismail Haniyeh, told the parliament that the new government, expected to win a vote of confidence on Tuesday or Wednesday, would be ready for dialogue with the so-called Quartet of mediators.

The Quartet -- the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations -- has said Hamas, winner of Palestinian elections in January, must recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept past peace agreements or risk losing vital aid.

The parliament session came on the eve of elections in Israel, where the main issue is a plan by interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to withdraw from remote Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank while expanding the largest blocs.

"The people have the right to struggle against occupation," Haniyeh said. But he added: "Our government will be ready for a dialogue with the Quartet ... to look into all ways to end the status of struggle and to achieve calm.

"Our people are in need more than any other nation on earth for peace, for security and stability. Our government will not spare any effort to achieve a just peace in the region."

But Haniyeh showed no sign of agreeing to demands by Western powers and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that it commit to negotiations with Israel.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev dismissed what he called "double talk" by Hamas, saying there was no sign of an actual change of policy.

Hamas inherits a Palestinian Authority that is on the brink of financial collapse. A threatened freeze in direct aid could make it impossible for the new government to pay the salaries of an estimated 140,000 workers, including security personnel.

"Whoever thinks economic pressure could push our government to succumb or that it could weaken the determination and the steadfastness of our proud people is mistaken," Haniyeh said.

Haniyeh said Hamas would provide "guarantees" to wary donors but offered no details about what those would entail.

Palestinian lawmakers are expected to hold a vote of confidence on the 24-member Hamas Cabinet and its policy program on Tuesday or Wednesday after debating both. Approval should be a certainty because Hamas holds the majority of seats.

Haniyeh has said the Cabinet will be sworn in by Wednesday.

The Palestinian parliament met in the West Bank city of Ramallah as well as in Gaza, where Haniyeh delivered a speech by video-link. Citing security concerns, Israel prohibited Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip from traveling to the West Bank.

Israeli troops killed an Islamic Jihad gunman who was firing into Israel from the northern Gaza Strip on Monday. Earlier, a militant commander from another faction said he escaped an Israeli attempt to kill him in an air strike.