The Associated Press
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Ignoring Hamas’ vehement protests, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday swore in a new government without his political rivals, outlawed Hamas militias and said he’ll push hard for a restoration of foreign aid to the Palestinians after a punishing 15-month boycott.
The blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza intensified, meanwhile, as Israel halted fuel shipments. A run on fuel, bread and other basic supplies intensified, driving the price of a box of Marlboro cigarettes — a reliable gauge of shortages — up by a third.
Hamas seized control of Gaza last week after five days of intense fighting against forces loyal to Abbas’ Fatah. The takeover prompted Abbas to dissolve a Fatah-Hamas coalition government and appoint a new Cabinet excluding the Islamic group.
The hurried swearing-in ceremony of the new Cabinet left the Palestinians effectively with two governments — the Hamas leadership headed by deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza and the new Cabinet led by the Western-backed economist Salam Fayyad in the West Bank.
“The first priority of our government is security and the security situation,” Fayyad told reporters. “The mission will be difficult and hard, but not impossible.”
Fayyad, an independent, will retain his post as finance minister and serve as foreign minister in the emergency government. The small Cabinet is dominated by independents, including human rights activists and business people.
In his speech, Fayyad stressed that the government represented Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians claim both areas for a state, but the internal strife has endangered that goal.
Addressing the Palestinians in Gaza, he said: “You are in our hearts, and the top of our agenda. The dark images, the shameful things that are alien to our traditions ... are not going to stop us.” It is “time to work together for Palestine,” he said.
Abbas cleared the way for the Cabinet to take power by issuing a decree that annulled a law requiring the government to be approved by parliament, which is dominated by Hamas.