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UN chief hails new government of Palestine

UNITED NATIONS, June 3 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday welcomed the formation of a government of national consensus in Palestine.

"The secretary-general welcomes, on the basis of assurances provided both publicly and to the United Nations, the announcement on June 2 by President Mahmoud Abbas of the formation of a government of national consensus headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah," said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesman.

"The United Nations has long underscored the need for progress towards Palestinian unity in line with existing resolutions, within the framework of the Palestinian Authority and the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization," the statement said.

The long-awaited Palestinian unity government was sworn in before President Abbas on Monday after a landmark reconciliation deal with the Islamist group Hamas that has infuriated Israel.

Following a ceremony at the Muqata presidential compound in Ramallah, West Bank, Abbas hailed "the end" of a bitter and sometimes bloody divide between his Fatah movement and the rival Hamas, which rules Gaza.

Meanwhile, Hamas also applauded the new government as representing "all Palestinians," saying it was a "turning point" in its formerly bitter relations with Fatah.

"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, in line with the intra-Palestinian unity agreement of April 23, under one legitimate Palestinian authority, including by addressing the serious political, security, humanitarian and economic challenges in Gaza, and holding long overdue elections," it said.

Under the deal, the Fatah-led Palestine Liberation Organization agreed to work with Hamas to establish an interim government of independents that would organize long-delayed elections.

The surprise agreement sought to end years of rivalry that had seen the establishment of rival Palestinian administrations, with the West Bank ruled by the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, and Gaza under Hamas authority.

UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry discussed those issues with Prime Minister Hamdallah in their meeting on Tuesday, the statement said.

"The secretary-general counts on a constructive approach by regional stakeholders, and hopes the international community will not relent in its support to the development of Palestinian economy and Israeli-Palestinian peace," said the statement.

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