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New Palestinian PM Ishtaye sworn in before President Abbas

China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-15 09:40

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Ishtayeh talks during a swearing in of the new government in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Saturday, April 13, 2019. [Photo/IC]

RAMALLAH, Palestine -New Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye and his cabinet members were sworn in on Saturday before President Mahmoud Abbas at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the official television reported, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The 18th Palestinian government since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1995 was sworn in according to a presidential decree issued by Abbas, a move at a time when prospects for a peace deal with Israel are possibly at their lowest point ever.

According to the presidential decree, Ishtaye will serve as the minister of interior and minister of Waqf, or religious affairs, until two new ministers are named.

A longtime adviser to Abbas and a senior member of his Fatah party, Ishtaye and his 24-member cabinet took the oath of office at Abbas' headquarters in Ramallah, all vowing to respect the law and the Palestinian constitutional system, The Associated Press reported.

Ishtaye, 61, holds a PhD in economic from University of Sussex in the United Kingdom and had been a minister in previous governments. He was also a member of the Palestinian negotiating team.

The new government consists of 24 ministers from the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, Abbas' Fatah Party, the Palestinian People's Party, the FIDA party and the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, in addition to independent figures.

Both Islamic Hamas movement and Islamic Jihad are excluded from the new government, as Hamas has been ruling the Gaza Strip since it violently seized control of the coastal enclave from Abbas' security forces in 2007, Xinhua reported.

Ibrahim Melhem, spokesman for the new government and a member of Fatah, told Palestine TV that the mission of the new Palestinian government is to defend Palestinian holy sites and lands despite Israel's threats to annex the West Bank.

"We want to support the steadfastness of the Palestinian citizens, but that requires political support from the Palestinian leadership," said Melhem.

"The test is put through the work of ministers on the ground and not certificates. I will communicate with the journalists and give them the frank, true and clear information and answer the difficult questions," he added.

Palestinian leaders said Israel was being empowered by US President Donald Trump to "violate national and human rights of the people of Palestine", Reuters reported.

Speaking to his new cabinet members, Abbas repeated his rejection of Trump's peace plan and said it was not useful to talk to Trump after he moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognized the holy city as Israel's capital.

"More developments will take place in the coming days but we will cooperate and confront it together because they are going to be difficult," said Abbas.

Nickolay Maldenov, the United Nations special Middle East peace envoy, welcomed the announcement of a new government and promised to cooperate with it.

"The United Nations remains fully committed to working with the Palestinian leadership and people in ending the occupation and advancing their legitimate national aspirations for statehood based on UN resolutions," said Mladenov said.


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