Abbas, who heads the mainstream Fatah movement, has said the
17-member cabinet would be comprised of unaffiliated ministers and
that it would strive to pursue peace, despite Hamas's refusal to
accept co-existence with Israel.
Ministers in the new administration took the oath of office in a
ceremony in Ramallah, the Palestinian seat of government in the
Israeli-occupied West Bank. Three ministers from the Hamas-run Gaza
Strip were denied entry to the West Bank by Israel.
"Today and after announcing the government of national unity we
declare the end of division that caused catastrophic harm to our
cause," Abbas said.
Hamas has run the Gaza Strip since seizing the territory from Fatah
forces in a brief civil war in 2007. Past reconciliation efforts,
largely brokered by Egypt, have failed over power-sharing.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged world leaders
not to rush into recognizing the new Palestinian government, saying
it would serve as a front for Hamas and "strengthen terrorism".
At the inauguration ceremony, Abbas said the new government would
abide by commitments made by previous Palestinian administrations
and by agreements ratified by the umbrella Palestine Liberation
Organization, a reference to interim accords with Israel.
[to top of second column]
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who spearheaded the
peace efforts that collapsed when the unity deal was signed in
April, spoke by telephone with Abbas and voiced his concern about
Hamas's role in the government, State Department spokeswoman Jen
Israel, the United States and the European Union regard Hamas as a
terrorist group over its refusal to recognize Israel, accept
existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals and renounce
In his telephone call, Kerry stressed the importance of the new
government committing to those principles, Psaki said.
"The Secretary stated that the United States would monitor the
situation closely and judge any government based on its composition,
policies, and actions," she added.
(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Writing by
Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem, Editing by Dan Williams)
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