Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah talks during the first cabinet meeting of the new Palestinian unity government in the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 3, 2014
Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah talks during the first cabinet meeting of the new Palestinian unity government in the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 3, 2014 © Abbas Momani - AFP
Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah talks during the first cabinet meeting of the new Palestinian unity government in the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 3, 2014
AFP
Last updated: June 3, 2014

Palestinian PM reassures EU over new government

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Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah assured European diplomats Tuesday that his new unity government would respect past agreements with Israel, after chairing the cabinet's first meeting.

"Hamdallah stressed that the government is committed to all international agreements signed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation... international political initiatives and peaceful solutions," his office said.

Hamdallah was briefing EU representatives to the Palestinian territories on his new government, telling them also that his cabinet would focus on service provision and resolving pressing water issues in the Gaza Strip.

He later gave UN peace envoy Robert Serry the same assurances, adding that the government's "main mission is to prepare for free and democratic elections," a separate statement said.

The premier chaired first meeting of the interim government, which aims to hold elections within six months, a day after the 17-member cabinet was sworn in before president Mahmud Abbas.

"The main subject the government discussed was how to reunite the institutions in the West Bank and Gaza," he told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah after the meeting.

"Employees were asked to return to work," he said, referring to people from Abbas's Fatah party who worked in Gaza-based government ministries before the Islamist Hamas movement forcibly took over the territory in 2007, splitting the Palestinian territories into two separate camps.

The unity government was sworn in after a landmark reconciliation deal in April with the Islamist movement Hamas.

Despite the alliance with Hamas, which does not recognise Israel and is pledged to its destruction, Abbas has said the government would abide by the principles of the Middle East Quartet.

"The government is committed to the principle of the two states on the border of 1967. The government is also committed to recognising the State of Israel, renouncing violence and honouring the signed agreements," he said on Monday.

"As we have stated in the past, we will continue with security coordination with Israel as this protects our people's interests."

John Gatt-Rutter, the EU representative to the Palestinian territories, assured Hamdallah of the support of the 28-nation bloc for his new government, said the Palestinian leader's office.

Washington has agreed to work with the new government, prompting a furious reaction from Israel, which had urged the international community not to rush into recognising the new entity.

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