The Palestinian unity government has held its first meeting in war-torn Gaza, the first cabinet session since 2007, when a brief armed confrontation soured relations between Hamas and Fatah faction.
Thursday’s meeting was the first in the besieged enclave, and the first that Gaza-based ministers could attend, after Israel blocked their travel to the West Bank to be sworn in.
“This is the government of all of Palestine… therefore I demand all factions support the government in rebuilding the Gaza strip and restoring a normal way of life,” Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said during the meeting.
Gaza’s former prime minister and one of Hamas leaders Ismail Haniya urged Fatah to follow through with their reconciliation pledges.
“This meeting strengthens Palestinian unity and the end of a division we have lived for years and which has harmed the nation and [our] politics,” Haniya said.
“We emphasise the need for the success of reconciliation, in all its forms, and the need to work together for this government to succeed in its mission.”
Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Gaza, said the face-to-face meeting was crucial for the newly formed technocrat government to show a united front.
The unity government was agreed four months ago and was formed to replace rival governments in separate territories, one led by Hamas which remains in de facto control of Gaza, and the other headed by Mahmoud Abbas in autonomous areas of the West Bank.
Palestinian parties agreed last month that the unity government would assume immediate authority over Gaza before an international aid conference set for October 12 in Egypt’s capital, Cairo.
The Palestinians have called for more than $4 billion in aid to rebuild Gaza’s infrastructure and provide humanitarian relief to the blockaded coastal territory, which is one of the most densely populated areas of the world.