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Israeli restrictions 'preventing Gaza unity govt meeting'

June 4, 2014 10:42 P.M. (Updated: June 5, 2014 6:55 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Ministers of the new Palestinian unity government are planning a cabinet meeting in the Gaza Strip, but Israel continues to deny them permits to travel, a government spokesman said Tuesday.

Ehab Bseiso told Ma'an that the ministers want to meet in Gaza to discuss the situation in the blockaded enclave, but that Israel has revoked the VIP status of Palestinian government members.

Meanwhile, four members of the new unity government still have not been officially sworn into office, given that Israel rejected their requests to travel to Ramallah for Monday's inauguration ceremony, Bseiso said.

He said the government is trying to find a legal way for Gaza ministers to be sworn in despite Israeli restrictions.

The four Gaza-based ministers are Mamoon Abu Shahla as minister of labor, Haifa al-Agha as minister of women's affairs, Mufeed al-Hasayna as minister of housing and public works, and Salim al-Saqqa as minister of justice.

The four ministers partook in the government's first official meeting on Tuesday via video conference call.

Though Israeli officials were furious over the creation of a unified West Bank-Gaza government, the US, the UN, and the EU expressed support for the new Palestinian government as long as it respected previous agreements, was committed to nonviolence, and recognized Israel.

Hamas ceded power over Gaza to the new government on Monday after signing a historic reconciliation deal with the Fatah-led PLO in April.
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