Abbas announces end of Palestinian political division

Updated: 2014-06-02 20:01


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Abbas announces end of Palestinian political division

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (C) meets with the new unity government in the West Bank city of Ramallah June 2, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

RAMALLAH - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Monday the end of a seven-year-long political division between his Fatah party and Islamic Hamas movement.

In a televised speech on official Palestine TV after the swearing-in of the new unity government, Abbas said the political split that caused many crisis to the Palestinian people has ended.

"Today, we announce that we have restored national unity, the unity of the homeland and its institutions. The division has gone once and forever," Abbas said.

Abbas stressed that national unity is an indispensable guarantee to achieve the dreams and ambitions of the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian national unity government was sworn in on Monday before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

As many as 13 ministers, led by Rami al-Hamdallah, have taken the oath before President Abbas at his office in Ramallah, while four Gaza-based ministers could not attend the official swearing- in ceremony after they were denied access into the West Bank by Israel.

This is the 17th cabinet since the creation of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in 1994.

Meanwhile, Abbas affirmed that the unity government is interim and it will mainly focus on serving the Palestinian people as well as preparing for future general elections supposed to be held in six months.

"Like the previous Palestinian governments, this one is committed to previous agreements signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)," Abbas said.

The Palestinian president reiterated that PLO, the sole representative of the Palestinians, will 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 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 the 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 have agreed to reconcile and form a unity government on April 23.