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Abbas Swears In Emergency Palestinian Government


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has sworn in a new cabinet, just hours after he overruled constitutional limits on his authority and established an emergency government. VOA's Jim Teeple reports from Jerusalem the new 13-member cabinet replaces the Hamas-dominated unity government Mr. Abbas dismissed last week.

Just days after his security forces were routed by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, President Abbas moved to re-assert his authority over the Palestinians, by swearing in a new cabinet made up of independents and close allies of his Fatah movement.

Leading the government is Salam Fayyad, a respected international economist who will serve as both Prime Minister and Finance Minister. In a brief swearing-in speech, Fayyad pledged to try to unify Palestinians.

Fayyad says the new government will follow Palestinian law and work to bring Palestinians together after the traumatic events of the past week, which saw Hamas Islamic militants defeat Fatah forces in the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Abbas also issued a series of decrees banning Hamas militias such as the Gaza-based Executive Force, and overriding constitutional limits on his authority to establish a government without the approval of the Palestinian legislature, which is dominated by Hamas.

Hamas leaders called the measures a coup, saying Mr. Abbas is working with the enemies of Hamas to destroy the movement. Speaking at a news conference in the Gaza Strip, the deputy speaker of the Palestinian legislature Ahmed Bahar said Hamas will continue to control the Gaza Strip

Bahar says Hamas will also seek to remain part of the Palestinian Authority, which governs the Palestinian territories, and he called moves by President Abbas to form a new government un-constitutional.

The Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have been effectively divided since Hamas defeated Mr. Abbas' forces - and he dissolved the Hamas-dominated Palestinian unity government and declared a state of emergency last week.

Since then, Mr. Abbas has received broad support from the Arab League, the European Union, the United States, and even Israel, which says it is considering releasing hundreds of millions of dollars in customs and tax revenue it is holding, because Hamas is now no longer part of the Palestinian government.

U.S. officials say that an economic aid embargo imposed on the Palestinian Authority because of the Hamas refusal to recognize Israel will now be lifted, since there is a new Palestinian government.

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