New Palestinian government sworn in

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has sworn in an emergency cabinet. The controversial move came without parliamentary approval. Mahmoud Abbas also issued a decree outlawing Hamas militant groups in Gaza.

The new government took office without approval by the parliament, dominated by Hamas. The swearing-in ceremony took place in the West Bank city of Ramallah, in the area controlled by the president-supporting Fatah faction.

The new cabinet is headed by Salam Fayyad replacing the outgoing Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniye. The government comprises 11 ministers, the majority of whom are independent politicians not belonging to either Hamas or Fatah.

The move is hoped to stop the violence surge which claimed over a hundred lives during the more then week-long battle for control over the Gaza Strip, which resulted in Hamas completely overtaking the area and driving the rival Fatah to the West Bank.

The United States supported the new cabinet, promising to lift the 18-month-long embargo on international aid, which ruined the Palestine Autonomy’s economy and intensified tensions between the rival factions. Israel also welcomed the Hamas-free Palestinian government and announced it will deal with it and with the Hamas-controlled Parliament on a different basis.

Meanwhile, Hamas leaders have declared the new government illegal and refuse to follow its decrees.