President Abbas swears in Palestinian unity government
President Mahmoud Abbas announced the end of a seven-year-long political division between his Fatah party and the Islamic Hamas movement following the swearing in of the Palestinian national unity government on Monday.
‘Today (Monday), we announce that we have restored national unity, the unity of the homeland and its institutions. The division has gone once and forever,’ Xinhua quoted Abbas as saying. The Palestinian national unity government was sworn in Monday by President Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
As many as 13 ministers, led by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, took the oath at Abbas’s office in Ramallah, while four Gaza-based ministers could not attend the official swearing in ceremony having been denied access into the West Bank by Israel. This is the 17th cabinet since the creation of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in 1994.
Abbas affirmed that the unity government was interim and would mainly focus on serving the Palestinian people as well as preparing for the general elections which are supposed to take place after six months.
‘Like the previous Palestinian governments, this one is committed to previous agreements signed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO),’ Abbas said.
The Palestinian president reiterated that PLO, the sole representative of the Palestinians, would oversee peace negotiations with Israel as it has always done.
He also applauded the stances of the Arab countries which pledged to continue supporting the Palestinian people and their new government.
‘We also appreciate the constructive stances of the European Union (EU) and Russia and the positive notions of the US towards the Palestinian reconciliation,’ he said.
Abbas also pledged to respond to any Israeli actions that might hurt Palestinian interests. ‘We are not seeking an escalation with Israel, but we will not stay cross-handed at Israel’s punitive measures. We will respond diplomatically and politically,’ he said.
The new consensus government has ended seven years of political division that started when Hamas took over Gaza in June 2007 after routing forces loyal to Abbas who now rules the West Bank.
Hamas and Fatah agreed to reconcile and form the unity government 23 April. Agencies