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Hamas-led Palestinian Cabinet Takes Office
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A new Palestinian cabinet led by Hamas formally took office on Wednesday in Gaza City, one day after being approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

Incoming Prime Minister Ismail Haneya, a 43-year-old man who is also a senior leader of Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, was the first to be sworn in before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Haneya, dressed in a business suit, laid his hand on the book of the Koran and read the constitutional oath before Abbas at the parliament building in Gaza City.

"I swear to great Allah to be faithful to the home Land and to its holy sites and to the people and their national heritage and to respect the law and the constitutional system and to fully protect the interests of the Palestinian people, and Allah (God) is witness," vowed Haneya.

Following Haneya, nine other cabinet members took oath one by one in Gaza while the rest 14 members took oath in Ramallah via a video conference.

Wednesday's sworn-in ceremony marked the birth of a new Palestinian government led by Hamas, a radical political faction that is committed to destroying Israel.

Hamas, which came to power after it swept a Palestinian parliamentary election in January, refuses to recognize Israel and renounce violence despite western threat of cutting financial aid to the new Palestinian government.

The sworn-in ceremony also came one day after the Israeli parliamentary elections, during which the centrist Kadima Party led by Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert won most seats, with 28 out of a total of 120 seats in the next Israeli Knesset.

Israel has said that it would not deal with a Hamas-led Palestinian government unless the group recognizes Israel, renounces violence and honors previous peace agreements.

(Xinhua News Agency March 30, 2006)

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