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Fatah Forms New Government, Outlaws Hamas

From an outraged Associated Press:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, looks at newly-appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad, placing his hand on the Quran, during a swearing in ceremony for the new government at Abbas headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Sunday, June 17, 2007.

Palestinian PM outlaws Hamas militias

By MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH, Associated Press Writer

RAMALLAH, West Bank – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in an emergency Cabinet on Sunday and outlawed the militia forces of the Islamic Hamas movement, deepening the violent rupture in Palestinian society.

Hamas seized control of Gaza last week after routing Abbas’ Fatah movement. The violence has left the impoverished coastal strip increasingly isolated, a situation worsened Sunday when an Israeli fuel company cut off deliveries to gas stations there.

The hurried swearing-in ceremony of the new Cabinet left the Palestinians effectively with two governments — the Hamas leadership in Gaza and the new Cabinet in the West Bank led by respected economist Salam Fayyad.

Abbas issued decrees Sunday annulling a law requiring the new government to be approved by parliament, which is dominated by Hamas, and outlawing the Islamic group’s militias.

“There is one authority, one law and one legitimate gun in all areas of our homeland, in the West Bank and Gaza,” he said later.

In Gaza, deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh — who has ignored Abbas’ order firing him — called the new government illegal and insisted he remains in power. “The council of ministers considers the steps adopted by President Mahmoud Abbas to … have no basis in law,” he said. “The national unity government asserts here that we are fulfilling our duty according to our law.”

In an apparent response to Abbas’ decree, Haniyeh fired the head of internal security and the director general of the Palestinian police, Hamas-allied Al Aqsa TV said. The decisions were symbolic because both men moved to the West Bank.

Fayyad, an independent, will retain his post as finance minister and also serve as foreign minister in the emergency government, which Abbas appointed to replace the Hamas-led Cabinet he fired after Hamas seized control of Gaza.

The small emergency Cabinet is dominated by independents, including human rights activists and business people. Only one, Interior Minister Abdel Razak Yehiyeh, is a member of Abbas’ Fatah movement.

In taking office, Fayyad said the new government would work to end the chaos and provide security for the Palestinians. “We are going to work with clean hands, systematically,” he said.

Addressing the Palestinians in Gaza, he said: “You are in our hearts, and the top of our agenda.”

It is “time to work together for Palestine,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the new Palestinian government would create a “new opportunity” for the peace process. Olmert has long welcomed Abbas as a negotiating partner, but said Abbas’ now defunct alliance with Hamas had made peacemaking virtually impossible. Israel considers Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings, a terrorist group.

“We have a new opportunity … that we haven’t had in a long time,” Olmert told reporters shortly before leaving for the United States. “A government that is not Hamas is a partner.” …

In many ways this Palestinian civil war has been a good thing. 

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, June 17th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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