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Hamas Starts To Set Up Government

Hamas leader, and top candidate for the Palestinian parliamentary elections, Ismail Haniyeh salutes supporters outside his at his house at the al-Shati refugee camp, in Gaza City, Thursday Jan. 26, 2006.
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A senior Hamas leader said Friday he has asked Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to meet within two days to discuss the formation of the next government.

"We asked him to meet within the coming two days to consult with Hamas, the largest party in the Palestinian legislature, about the shape of the political partnership for the next era and about all the Palestinian people's issues and topics," Ismail Haniyeh, told worshippers at a mosque in a Gaza refugee camp.

Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and his Cabinet resigned to make room for a Hamas-led government.

Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday, responding to a sweeping victory by the Islamic militant group in parliament elections.

"The state of Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian administration if even part of it is an armed terrorist organization calling for the destruction of the state of Israel," he said in a statement.

His comments came after a three-hour emergency meeting between Olmert and senior Cabinet ministers, called after it became clear that Hamas had decisively won Wednesday's vote — a result that plunged Mideast peacemaking into turmoil.

But according to a poll, nearly half of Israelis believe Israel should talk to a government led by Hamas. CBS News correspondent Robert Berger reports 48 percent support talks with Hamas while 43 percent are opposed.

The Abbas-Haniyeh meeting would have to take place in Gaza because Haniyeh would not be permitted by Israel to travel to the West Bank, the Palestinians' seat of government.

He spoke a day after official election results gave Hamas 76 seats in the 132-member Palestinian parliament.

Abbas said he would ask Hamas to form the next government.

"Until now, we haven't asked anyone to form the government," Abbas said outside his office. "We are carrying on contacts with all factions, and of course we will ask the party that won the majority to form the government."

Hamas' landslide victory in Palestinian elections unnerved the world, darkening prospects for Mideast peace and ending four decades of rule by the corruption-riddled Fatah Party.

It was the first time ever that militant Islamists have come into power peacefully in a democratic election considered free and fair by international observers, reports CBS News correspondent David Hawkins.

But that doesn't mean it's time for the world community to rejoice, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said on CBS News' The Early Show.