The Palestinian Authority unity government, which will be sworn in on Saturday, enjoys the backing of the Arabs and Europeans, PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas announced Thursday. The announcement was made shortly after Haniyeh delivered to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas a list containing Hamas's candidates for the new coalition. "The unity government has won much support from the Arabs, Muslims and Europeans," Haniyeh told reporters in Gaza City. "The Europeans have told President Abbas that they welcome the unity government and are prepared to support it financially and morally."
Analysis: Strategically crafted ambiguity
Claiming that Israel and the US were the only countries opposed to the unity government, Haniyeh said: "The Palestinian political will and ongoing efforts to lift the international sanctions will help us overcome the position of the Americans and Israelis, who want the sanctions to continue."
Mustafa Barghouti, who has been named information minister in the unity government, said he expected the coalition to face difficulties in persuading the international community to lift the sanctions.
"The new government faces many tough tasks," he said. "The path is going to be very hard for the government. These tasks include lifting the sanctions, providing security and eliminating corruption."
Barghouti, head of the Independent Palestine list, said the unity government "represents 96 percent of the Palestinians."
Ziad Abu Amr, the new foreign minister, said he received a letter from his French counterpart telling him that France will support the unity government.
Russia on Thursday also praised the formation of a new government.
"Moscow welcomes the creation of the Palestinian Authority coalition government," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement. "It is inarguably an important event in terms of consolidation of the Palestinian ranks."
Fatah legislator Muhammad Dahlan called on Israel and the rest of the international community to accept the unity government. "The political program of this government is very close to meeting the demands of the international community," he said. "Israel and the US were surprised by the agreement we reached with Hamas.
Those who are angry must know that we have an internal Palestinian agenda that they must respect."
Dahlan lashed out at Israel for refusing to deal with the new government, saying: "Before asking others to abide by the agreements, Israel itself should honor these agreements. Israel has ignored these agreements despite requests by the Palestinian Authority and the international community."
Hamas spokesmen hailed the new unity government as a "great achievement" for the Palestinians. They said Hamas's decision to name technocrats, academics and independents as ministers was aimed at strengthening the role of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council in supervising the work of the government.
The new Hamas ministers are: Wasfi Kabaha, minister of state; Samir Abu Aisheh, minister of planning; Nasser Eddin Shaer, minister of education; Ali Sartawi, minister of justice; Hassan al-Tartouri, minister of Wakf affairs; Muhammad Barghouti, minister for local government; and Amal Siam, minister for women's affairs.
The unity government has two women from Bethlehem - Siam, who is a Muslim, and Kholoud Duaibis, who is a Christian. Siam, 44, is a mother of four who studied Islamic Studies at Al-Quds University. Duaibis, 41, will serve as tourism minister. She studied engineering in Germany.
The new ministers will be sworn in in separate ceremonies on Saturday - one in Gaza City in the presence of Abbas, and the second in Ramallah, where Abbas will be represented by his top aide, Tayeb Abdel Rahim. The ceremonies will take place immediately after the new government wins the approval of the PLC.
AP contributed to this report.