Monday, 18 June 2007

Abbas swears in government

But Hamas says it won't talk to 'illegitimate & illegal' body

Monday, June 18th 2007


JERUSALEM - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a new emergency government yesterday, a move that was met with derision by the Islamic militants who now rule the violence-ravaged Gaza Strip.

The developments came a day after Hamas completed its conquest of Gaza
by ransacking Yasser Arafat's beachfront villa, stealing even the late
leader's Nobel Peace medal.

In the West Bank, where Abbas' Fatah Party remained in control, Finance
Minister Salam Fayyad was named the new prime minister, in place of
Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh.

"The first priority of our government is security and the security
situation," Fayyad, who lived and studied in the U.S. for 20 years, told
reporters after the brief ceremony in Ramallah.

"The mission will be difficult and hard, but not impossible," he said.
But Hamas denounced the new government as "illegitimate and illegal."

"We will not recognize it. We will not work with it," said Hamas
spokesman Ismail Radwan.

The United States, Israel and European states indicated they would
release tax revenues and donor funds to Fayyad's new government, after a
15-month embargo of the Hamas-led administration pushed the Palestinian
Authority to the brink of bankruptcy.

At least 160 Palestinians were killed and 796 were wounded in last
week's fighting, the Al-Mizan Center for Human Rights reported.

The dead included 45 civilians as well as Fatah fighters who were
executed in the streets.

Al-Mizan said the death toll could still rise because many people were
missing and there were dozens of people with serious wounds. Hundreds of
senior Fatah officials have fled Gaza for the West Bank with Israel's
permission, but many civilians weren't so lucky.

At least 150 men, women and children were stranded yesterday without
food and water in blazing heat at the Erez border crossing. Israeli
soldiers fired tear gas and shot in the air as the crowd neared the
heavily fortified checkpoint.

One 22-year-old woman said she had been waiting with her 3-month-old
baby since Saturday for permission to cross Israel and reach her family
in the West Bank.

"We have no milk, water or food. My child's milk is running out. We have
no money. We are under siege. They don't agree to let us cross through
Erez, but we can't return to Gaza. My husband is threatened, that is why
we are trying to run," she said.

As Israel wondered how to react to the new militant Islamic state on its
southern border, the northern city of Kiryat Shmona came under rocket
fire yesterday for the first time since last year's Lebanon war.

At least three rockets were fired from Lebanon, apparently by a small
Palestinian group. They caused damage but no casualties.

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