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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Hamas wins parliament's approval
Incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya
Ismail Haniya is set to be sworn in as prime minister
Palestinian militant group Hamas has won a parliamentary vote of confidence, clearing the way for it to take power.

The new administration will be sworn in on Wednesday, two months after Hamas' surprise election victory.

Incoming Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said this week that Hamas was ready to talk to international mediators about solving the Middle East conflict.

But the group rejects international pressure to renounce violence and recognise Israel's right to exist.

Western donors are threatening to halt aid to the Palestinian Authority unless Hamas amends its anti-Israel policies.

The Palestinian parliament voted 71-36 to approve Hamas' government agenda and cabinet list. There were two abstentions.

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The vote in the West Bank town of Ramallah came as Israelis went to the polls in a general election widely expected to be won by interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Israeli travel restrictions means Palestinian MPs in the Gaza Strip and West Bank will have to take part in parliament sessions via video-link.

On Tuesday, Mr Haniya presented his administration's plans via video-link, urging the international community not to punish the Palestinian people for electing a Hamas government, but to put pressure on Israel to end its occupation.

Israel, the US and EU all classify Hamas as a terrorist group and have said they will not deal with it unless it renounces violence and recognises Israel.

But the militant movement says recognising Israel would mean accepting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

Hamas has carried out dozens of suicide bombings against Israelis although it has been observing an informal truce since last year.


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