RAMALLAH, West Bank – Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (search) has invited members of the Hamas (search) terrorist group to join his Cabinet and help ensure a peaceful handover of the Gaza Strip (search) after Israel withdraws this summer, Abbas' office confirmed Saturday.
A Hamas official, speaking on condition of anonymity, had first reported the offer on Friday. On Saturday, Hamas' West Bank leader, Hassan Yousef, confirmed the group was considering the offer.
Abbas extended the offer Wednesday after Hamas demanded a special committee be formed to oversee the transfer of powers in Gaza. Abbas invited them to join his Cabinet instead.
Israel is worried that Abbas' government isn't strong enough to prevent chaos in Gaza after Israel completes the pullout in September.
Abbas has promised a smooth transfer of powers and a clampdown on militants who would fire on withdrawing Israeli soldiers and settlers.
But a fragile truce Abbas reached with Hamas and other militant groups at the beginning of the year has been unraveling as the pullout approaches.