"We have agreed on the formation of a unity government," declared Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza Thursday evening.
Abbas and Haniyeh held a special meeting earlier in the evening during which they ironed out the details of the agreement outlined in Mecca.
During the meeting Haniyeh submitted his formal resignation from the premiership to Abbas, as well as the resignation of the rest of the Hamas government. Haniyeh, it was detailed in the press conference, will begin building the new government after receiving an official letter of appointment from Abbas.
Haniyeh (L), Abbas and Dahlan at Gaza press conference (photo: Reuters)
"Prime Minister Haniyeh submitted the resignation of his government," said Abbas, adding he and Haniyeh hope "Our people will be happy with this important development."
"We are pleased to tell the Palestinian people that we are beginning the formation of a unity government based on the Mecca agreement," added Haniyeh.
The resigning prime minister thanked Abbas for his 'efforts and trust.' Abbas then read the letter of appointment for the new government, in which Haniyeh is required to observe previous accords signed by the PLO and agreements signed by Abbas himself.
The atmosphere at the press conference was jovial; leaders exchanged numerous smiles, hugs and kisses. Abbas allotted Haniyeh three weeks to form the new government, with an option for two more weeks should negotiations take longer. Haniyeh will then present the new government to the Palestinian parliament for approval.
Abbas ended the conference with a tongue-in-cheek comment, saying he hoped the media coverage of the formation of the new government will be based on facts and not speculations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report