New Palestinian Unity Government Sworn In

001788-01-08AFP – A Palestinian unity government was sworn in on Monday after a landmark reconciliation deal with the Islamist movement Hamas that Israel plans to boycott but Washington said it will work with.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah greet members of the new Palestinian unity government in the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 2, 2014

President Mahmud Abbas, following a ceremony at the Muqataa presidential compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, hailed “the end” of a bitter and sometimes bloody divide between his Fatah movement and rival Hamas, which rules Gaza.

Hamas applauded the new government as representing “all Palestinians,” saying it was a “turning point” in its relations with Fatah, which dominates Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA).

The long-awaited new cabinet was the product of an internal agreement between Fatah and Hamas, which has been blacklisted by Washington and the European Union as a “terror organisation”.

In an early boost for the new team, Washington said on Monday it will work with the unity government and maintain aid, while “watching closely” to ensure it respects the principle of non-violence.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington believes Abbas has “formed an interim technocratic government… that does not include members affiliated with Hamas.”

“With what we know now, we will work with this government,” Psaki said.

The United States “will be watching closely to ensure that it upholds principles” of non-violence and recognition of the state of Israel, she warned, while confirming that millions of dollars in US aid to the PA would continue.

Israel was swift to voice its displeasure.

“We are deeply disappointed by the comments of the State Department regarding working with the Palestinian unity government,” a government official said.

The United States is “enabling Abbas to believe that it is acceptable to form a government with a terrorist organisation,” the official told AFP, declining to be named.

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