Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has officially been sworn in the new Palestinian unity government, ending a seven year rivalry between Hamas and Fatah. The ceremony took place Monday afternoon in Ramallah.
It was unsure whether the new government would be formed as both sides faced last minute negotiations over the composition of the cabinet. Hamas demanded early Monday morning that Abbas reverse his decision to remove the position of prisoner affairs minister from the new government.
Moments before the swearing in ceremony, senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayeh announced that all disputes had been resolved.
In the new deal, according to Yedioth Aharonoth, no new minister will be appointed to the Ministry of Prisoners. Rather, the ministry will fall under the leadership of the unity government prime minister Rami Hamdallah.
The new cabinet, which is made up of 17 ministers, is comprised of members from the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Gaza-based Hamas terror group. Three of the Hamas ministers had to be sworn in via a live video feed since they denied travel visas to Ramallah.
With the Palestinian unity government now official, tensions between the Palestinians with Israel and the US will increase. Israel has made it clear that it would reject the new government and has stated it refuses to negotiate with any government backed by Hamas.
In a phone call on Sunday with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who “expressed concerns” over the new government, Abbas assured the secretary of state that the new Palestinian government would be “committed” to nonviolence.
However, previous statements made by Abbas and Hamas leaders show that the new government would never recognize Israel nor condemn the use of violence and terrorism.