UN chief welcomes new Palestinian government

After US and EU approval, Ban Ki-moon says he will lend full support to efforts to unite Palestinians

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (photo credit: Gili Yaari/Flash 90)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (photo credit: Gili Yaari/Flash 90)

The United Nations on Tuesday welcomed the new Palestinian unity government and said it was ready to lend its full support in efforts to reunite the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, a spokesman said. The announcement followed statements by the US and the EU Monday that they would recognize the new leadership in Ramallah, much to Israel’s chagrin.

The spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made the remarks after UN special envoy Robert Serry held talks with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

“The United Nations has long underscored the need for progress towards Palestinian unity,” Ban’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

“The United Nations stands ready to lend its full support to the newly formed government in its effort to reunite the West Bank and Gaza… under one legitimate Palestinian authority,” he added.

That issue, “the serious political, security, humanitarian and economic challenges in Gaza, and holding long overdue elections” were discussed by Serry and Hamdallah, the spokesman said.

Israel has reacted fiercly to its allies’ acceptance of the new Hamas-backed government, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying Tuesday he was “deeply troubled” by the US decision to maintain relations with the PA, and urging Washington to tell the Palestinian president that his alliance with the Hamas militant group was unacceptable.

“All those who genuinely seek peace must reject President Abbas’s embrace of Hamas, and most especially, I think the United States must make it absolutely clear to the Palestinian president that his pact with Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks Israel’s liquidation, is simply unacceptable,” he said.

Israel and the West have branded Hamas a terrorist group. But Israel’s allies in Washington and Europe have said they will maintain ties to the new government — and continue sending hundreds of millions of dollars in aid — as long as it renounces violence and recognizes Israel’s right to exist.

Abbas says the new Cabinet is committed to these principles. It is made up of apolitical technocrats who have no ties to Hamas.

Hamas, which remains sworn to Israel’s destruction, has agreed to support the government from the outside.

Abbas’s prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, told reporters Tuesday that the government is committed to all agreements previously reached with Israel and would continue the president’s “programs of peace,” aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

“We call on the international community to immediately recognize the government and continue to support the Palestinian political leadership efforts to enable the government to face all political challenges, especially the Israeli policies that hinder the political and economic stability in the region,” Hamdallah said.

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