Palestinian Territories

Unity government formed after seven years of arguments


After much discussion and numerous delays, President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a new unity government for the Palestinian Territories. The move ends a bitter seven year split between Hamas, who took over control of the Gaza Strip, and Abbas’ Fatah who were reduced to controlling the West Bank through the Palestinian Authority.

The Ma’an News Agency reports that under the terms of the agreement between the two sides the new government would organise elections which had been delayed.

The agency also reports that President Abbas has stated that the new government will abide by the principles laid down by the Middle East Peace Quartet including recognising Israel and rejecting violence. Hamas has always refused to recognise Israel, so if this is true then it will be a major step forward.

Predictably the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has called on the West to shun the new government because it “leans on support from Hamas”. The United States has said that it will work with the new government and the European Union (EU) said that it welcomed the development and would continue funding any government that met its conditions.

If the new unity government can follow through on its promises made then fresh elections may be held as early as 2015.

The full list of the new Cabinet is as follows:

Rami Hamdallah Prime Minister and Minister of Interior
Ziad Abu Amr Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture
Muhammad Mustafa Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Economy
Shukri Bishara Minister of Finance and Planning
Riyad al-Maliki Minister of Foreign Affairs
Salim al-Saqqa Minister of Justice
Adnan al-Husseini Minister of Jerusalem Affairs
Rula Maya Minister of Tourism and Antiquities
Jawad Awad Minister of Health
Khawlah Shakhshir Minister of Education and Higher Education
Mufeed al-Hasayna Minister of Public Works and Housing
Allam Mousa Minister of Telecommunications and Transportation
Shawqi al-Ayasa Minister of Agriculture and Social Affairs
Hayfaa al-Agha Minister for Women
Mamoun Abu Shahla Minister of Labour
Nayif Abu Khalaf Minister of Local Governance
Yousif Ideis Minister of Endowment

The official statement as published on the Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA) is as follows:

“Consensus Government Takes Oath of Office, Abbas Announces End of Division

RAMALLAH, June 2, 2014 (WAFA) – Palestinian national consensus government, headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Monday took the oath of office before President Mahmoud Abbas, who announced the end of national division which lasted from 2007 to 2014.

“Today we announce the restoration of national and institutional unity. As for the unity of [our] people, it has always been preserved and has never been susceptible to split,” said Abbas during the oath-of-office ceremony of the new government.

“By forming the national consensus government today, we hereby announce the end of division which had resulted in catastrophic consequences to our national cause during the past seven years,” he added.

He said the government is a transitional one whose mission is to prepare for general elections, stressing the new government’s commitment to the obligations of the Palestinian Authority and all previously signed agreements as well as with the PLO’s political program.

Regarding the Israeli threats against the reconciliation agreement, Abbas said “[the Israeli threats] make us more committed to what we have achieved and very insistent on continuing with [our reconciliation path].”

He said such threats uncover the “real intentions of the occupation” which targets the division of the Palestinian nation in order to continue with the Judiazation of Jerusalem, the seizure of land, the expansion of settlements, and the obstruction of any international efforts aimed at achieving peace.

“We do not want escalation nor do we seek more tension, but we will not stand fold hands in the face of collective punishment; we will use political, diplomatic and legal means to react [to these threats],” ascertained Abbas.

“We will face many obstacles, but we believe the ‘train of reconciliation’ has already taken off and no one can stop it; our people will not allow that to happen again.”

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