The first cabinet meeting of a Palestinian unity government in seven years has taken place in Gaza – a symbolic move ahead of an all important international aid conference in Cairo on October 12.
It was convened by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah who travelled to the Hamas-dominated territory from the West Bank.
Hamas and the Fatah party agreed to form a joint cabinet in May for the first time since the rival factions fought a brief civil war in 2007.
Palestinian parties agreed last month that the unity government would assume authority over Gaza.
“I assure you that Gaza is the top priority for the president (Mahmoud Abbas) and the government. Gaza was and still is an important part of the Palestinian homeland. There will be no Palestinian national project without Gaza. The split has ended forever,” Rami Hamdallah told the crowd.
The prime minister visited a neighbourhood destroyed during this summer’s war with Israel. Many Gazans are now putting their faith in the unity government after years of internal Palestinian division.
Hamdallah said he hoped that enough money would be donated at the Cairo donor conference for the rebuilding of Gaza to restart.
He has estimated reconstruction costs at three billion euros over three years.
Potential donors were put off giving aid to Gaza while Hamas, blacklisted as a terrorist group, was in charge.