VIDEO - A Palestinian unity government took office on Saturday, sworn in by President Mahmoud Abbas
after parliament voted confidence in the power-sharing partnership between the Islamist Hamas and secular Fatah groups.
Earlier, Palestinian lawmakers formally endorsed the new unity cabinet after Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the Islamist Hamas movement declared that it would uphold the right to "all forms" of resistance.
Palestinians hope the coalition, the first forged between Hamas and its secular Fatah rivals, can end bloody factional violence that has cost more than 300 lives in the past year, and persuade foreign powers to lift crippling financial sanctions.
Underlining the internal tensions, gunmen wounded a Fatah security officer in the Gaza Strip. The pro-Fatah Preventive Security force accused police loyal to Hamas of staging the attack. There was no immediate comment from Hamas.
Eight-three of the 87 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council attending a video-linked session in Gaza and Ramallah voted in favor of the government.
Forty-one of the council's 132 members, including 37 from Hamas, are in Israeli jails. Israeli travel restrictions prevented the legislators from meeting in a single venue.
"This national unity wedding has received an Arab and international welcome, which we hope will be transformed into practical steps to end the siege," Abbas told lawmakers.
Haniyeh and Abbas (Photo: AP)
Abbas again endorsed an Arab League offer of full peace with Israel if it quits all the land it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.
Haniyeh, who signed a power-sharing deal with Fatah leader Abbas last month, struck an ncompromising tone.
"The government affirms that resistance in all its forms, including popular resistance to occupation, is a legitimate right of the Palestinian people," he said.
Israel ruled out dealing with the Fatah-Hamas coalition, citing Hamas' refusal to accept demands, set by a Quartet of foreign peace mediators a year ago, that it forswear violence, recognize the Jewish state and accept past interim peace deals.
"We're not going to work with this government," said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokeswoman Miri Eisin.
"This government does not recognize our existence, it does not recognize the treaties, and most important, does not in any way renounce terror," she said, seizing on Haniyeh's remarks.