U.N. welcomes Palestinian unity government rejected by Israel

UNITED NATIONS Tue Jun 3, 2014 6:09pm BST

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (4th L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (3rd L) pose for a group photo with Palestinian ministers during a swearing-in ceremony of the unity government, in the West Bank city of Ramallah June 2, 2014.  REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (4th L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (3rd L) pose for a group photo with Palestinian ministers during a swearing-in ceremony of the unity government, in the West Bank city of Ramallah June 2, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations on Tuesday welcomed the formation of a new Palestinian unity government that came about thanks to a reconciliation deal between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah and Hamas Islamists.

"The secretary-general welcomes, on the basis of assurances provided both publicly and to the United Nations, the announcement on 2 June by President Mahmoud Abbas of the formation of a government of national consensus headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

"The secretary-general (Ban Ki-moon) takes note of the renewed assurances yesterday by President Abbas that the government will continue to abide by those commitments of recognition of Israel, non-violence and adherence to previous agreements," he said.

Washington's announcement that it would work with the new Palestinian government has set the United States on a new collision course with Israel, which has shunned the new cabinet in the Palestinian territories.

Setting a policy in line with U.S. and European Union demands, the Western-backed Palestinian leader Abbas said his administration would continue to honour agreements and principles at the foundation of a peace process with Israel.

Hamas, which advocates Israel's destruction, has run the Gaza Strip since seizing the territory from Abbas' Fatah forces in a brief civil war in 2007. Numerous reconciliation efforts, largely brokered by Egypt, have failed over power-sharing.

"The United Nations stands ready to lend its full support to the newly formed government in its effort to reunite the West Bank and Gaza," Dujarric said.

He added that U.N. chief Ban "counts on a constructive approach by regional stakeholders, and hopes the international community will not relent in its support to the development of Palestinian economy and Israeli-Palestinian peace."

President Barack Obama's administration said on Monday it plans to work with and fund the new Palestinian unity government, and Israel immediately voiced its disappointment with the decision also criticized by some U.S. lawmakers.

The European Union has also expressed a willingness to work with the new Palestinian government.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Tom Brown)

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