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New Palestinian Cabinet Meets for First Time

The cabinet of the new Palestinian unity government has held its first meeting, a day after being sworn in.

Ministers for the power-sharing government gathered Sunday in Gaza City.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr urged Israel to cooperate with the new government. He told Israel radio that Hamas has agreed to "respect" prior peace deals that recognize the Jewish state.

But the Israeli cabinet has rejected the new Palestinian government, which combines Hamas with the more moderate Fatah faction.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday the new government's platform is problematic because it calls for resistance and terror, and refuses to recognize Israel.

Mr. Olmert ruled out peace talks but said he will maintain contact with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.

Hamas' charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

Earlier Sunday, a U.S. official said the United States may be willing to work with some officials in the new Palestinian government, but will maintain a ban on contact with members of Hamas.

The United States, Israel and the European Union consider Hamas a terrorist group.

Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas formed the unity government last week in hopes of ending a crippling Western embargo against the Palestinian Authority, and halting months of factional fighting that has left more than 130 people dead.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.