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Abbas: Elections in 6 months
Published Monday 02/06/2014 (updated) 05/06/2014 11:11
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(MaanImages)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday that new elections would be held within six months, after a Palestinian unity government was announced in Ramallah.

Abbas said during the first meeting with the newly sworn-in cabinet that one of the objectives of this cabinet was to facilitate the elections process.

He added that directives would be issued to cabinet members and to the central elections commission in days to start preparing for the election, adding that a date will be agreed upon with the commission.

Abbas also called Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and thanked him for his efforts to end the division.

Both Abbas and Haniyeh highlighted their shared responsibility for the next steps.

Haniyeh also received a call from senior Fatah official, Abbas Zaki, who offered appreciation for his help in forming the unity government and reconciliation.

He also pointed out that the united front would help oppose Israel.

Earlier, Abbas hailed the "end" of Palestinian division as a new government took its oath under a unity deal between leaders in the West Bank and Gaza.

"Today, with the formation of a national consensus government, we announce the end of a Palestinian division that has greatly damaged our national case," Abbas said at his Ramallah headquarters after the new cabinet was sworn in.

"This black page in the history (of the Palestinians) has been turned forever, and we will not allow it to come back."

Hamas officials also welcomed the new government as one for "all Palestinians" after the cabinet, which is made up of political independents, was sworn in.

"We hail the national consensus government, which represents all the Palestinian people," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP.

The new government, he said, was "a turning point... enabling us to unite the Palestinian effort to face the Israeli occupation".

There were no major changes to a list of names touted for key portfolio positions in the lead up to the announcement.

Hamdallah will remain as prime minister and minister of interior, while Ziad Abu Amr will be the deputy prime minister and minister of culture.

Muhammad Mustafa will be deputy prime minister and minister of national economy and Shukri Bishara was named as minister of finance and planning.

Riyad al-Maliki will remain as minister of foreign affairs, Salim al-Saqqa, from Gaza, will be minister of justice, and Adnan al-Husseini will be minister of Jerusalem affairs.

Rula Maya is minister of tourism and antiquities and Jawad Awad remains as minister of health.

Other key positions include Khawlah Shakhshir as minister of education and higher education, Mufeed al-Hasayna as minister of public works and housing, Allam Mousa as minister of telecommunications and transportation, and Shawqi al-Ayasa as minister of agriculture and social affairs.

Hayfaa al-Agha is minister for women, Mamoun Abu Shahla is minister of labor, Nayif Abu Khalaf is minister of local governance and Yousif Ideis is minister of endowment.

A cabinet of 17

The government includes three women and five ministers who come from Gaza. Over the weekend, Israel blocked three of the Gazans from traveling to Ramallah for the oath-taking.

Abbas has pledged that the new administration will abide by the principles laid down by the Middle East peace Quartet: Recognize Israel, reject violence and abide by all existing agreements.

Under terms of a deal inked on April 23, the PLO agreed to work with Hamas to establish an interim government of independents that would organize long-delayed elections.

The surprise agreement sought to end years of bitter and sometimes bloody rivalry which had seen the establishment of rival Palestinian administrations, with the West Bank ruled by the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, and Gaza under Hamas authority.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Abbas to express "concern about Hamas's role in any such government," the State Department said.

European 'ambiguity'

There was no immediate reaction from Israel which has made no secret of its opposition to the unity agreement with Hamas.

"I call on all responsible elements within the international community not to hurry to recognize the Palestinian government that Hamas is part of," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

Again on Monday, he hit out at Europe for demonstrating "ambiguity" to the idea of unity with Hamas, which is blacklisted by the European Union and Washington as a "terror organization."

Israel's security cabinet met overnight to discuss the new government, reconfirming an April decision to halt negotiations with any government backed by Hamas, newspapers reported on Monday. There was no comment from Netanyahu's office.

AFP contributed to this report
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1 ) Mel / USA
03/06/2014 00:51
Good! That gives 6 months for the united govt of Palestine to PROOF its national intentions by seeking out new foreign patrons/NGO's which are not staunch Zionist,rather pro-social-democracy &human rights.AND,USG can stop all US taxes to Israel,until it retreats back from its Judeo-military/extremist-colonist occupation of pluralistic Palestine.Those who stand for true popular democracy do NOT illegally fund state-sponsored fascism &racist Jim Crowe Zio-apartheid! Ain't that right Obama?Hmm?

2 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
03/06/2014 02:18
Democracy is breaking out all over. Nobody is holding their breath, because everybody knows Hamas will never let go of power in Gaza, nor will they ever stop arresting journalists and Christians, killing "suspected collaborators" without trial, and committing war crimes by shooting rockets at civilians.

3 ) Tibi / Tubas
03/06/2014 04:43
The Unity government probably will Not last 6 months, so There will probably be NO Elections in 6 months, and either way, The Unity Government Will Make No Difference to the people !!

4 ) What if HAMAS WINS as they did / in GAZA???
03/06/2014 09:21
Will PLO and Abbas surrender the Muqatta to them????

5 ) Dear / Brain
03/06/2014 12:07
I live in Gaza as a Christian and Hamas don`t go around arresting Christians, got your facts right before posting. Please tell me does Israel shoot rockets at civilians and or even just shoot civilians some times in the back. And don`t reply "only in self defence" It hard to clam self defence when shooting an unarmed man in the back.

6 ) Arachne646 / Canada
03/06/2014 21:19
Hamas is a stabilizing force in Gaza against more extremist groups, was elected in democratic, internationally monitored elections, and isn't the "terrorist group" portrayed by Netanyahu and echoed by the US and his even better friend, Canada's Christian Zionist PM Stephen Harper--Israel's international BFF.

7 ) Ariadne / Greece
04/06/2014 17:09
I thought that the hasbira put out by Mr Nitenyaho in Heratz was very good. The article had a lot of posters about Hamas and what Mr Nitenyaho thought about them. I don't think it was all true though, so I don't think world leaders will be too influenced. #6 - Your point is right. Lots of people in Gaza love Hamas, which is why they got elected and keep it safe and stable. I hope the future is bright for Palestine.
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