P.A. Forms New Cabinet, Ending Unity Gov't Efforts

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- A new Palestinian Authority cabinet was sworn in Wednesday evening, with P.A. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at the helm, effectively ending the latest round of efforts to form a Fatah-Hamas unity government.

P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas, who asked Fayyad last week to form a new cabinet, attended the swearing-in ceremony in Ramallah.

Seven new ministers make up the 25-member cabinet, including six women. Fayyad relinquished the Finance ministry, which he led since 2007.

Hamas officials expressed deep displeasure at the move. The group has strongly objected to Fayyad's role as prime minister and wanted a Hamas member to replace him.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum accused the Fatah-led P.A. of voiding the Doha Accords, signed last February by Abbas and exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal. Barhoum said the move strengthened the division between the two factions.

Under the Doha Accord, Abbas agreed to form an interim unity government made up of non-affiliated "technocrats" until presidential and legislative elections could be held.

Abbas reportedly told the new ministers municipal elections should be held as soon as possible.

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