Gulf & Middle East
Abbas forms national Security Council
Apr 15, 2007 - 7:33:46 PM

Ramallah, April 15 - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday created a national security council including Hamas officials for the first time, sources from Abbas' office said.

According to the sources, Abbas has appointed himself to chair the National Security Council - and appointed Prime Minister Ismail Haneya of Hamas as his deputy.

The council comprises the foreign, interior, justice and financial ministers of the new national unity government while as Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, has also been included in the council.

The council will be responsible to draw up the strategic policies of the Palestinian security, oversee security negotiations and the Palestinian National Authority's economical security.

The council unifies the security services that report to the government and President Abbas' office.

The formation of the council comes as part of a February power-sharing deal between Hamas and Fatah that was signed in the Saudi city of Makkah and coinciding with the government's approval on a new plan to restore security in the Palestinian territories.

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