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Mideast negotiators agree new Palestinian government legitimate

By RIA Novosti

Moscow/Cairo : A quartet of mediators in the Middle East conflict agreed Sunday that the Palestinian leader's decision to dissolve a coalition government and form an emergency Cabinet is legitimate, a joint statement said.

During a telephone conference, representatives of Russia, the European Union, the United States and the United Nations, mediating a conflict between Israel and Palestinian territories, discussed the situation in the area.

Gaza has seen a week of armed clashes between the two leading Palestinian factions, the radical Islamic movement Hamas and pro-presidential Fatah. At least 100 people have died, and President Mahmoud Abbas was forced to dissolve the government led by Hamas's Ismail Haniya, and instruct pro-Western Fatah member Salam Fayyad, formerly a finance minister, to form a new emergency Cabinet.

The Cabinet was sworn in Sunday, and Abbas declared all armed structures linked to Hamas illegal, accusing Hamas of starting the armed rebellion June 10.

The Middle East quartet also expressed support Sunday to humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians and called for respecting the rights of Gaza residents and employees of international organizations.

Gaza continues to be controlled by Hamas, while West Bank is in the hands of Fatah.

Meanwhile, at least a thousand desperate Palestinians, mostly members of Fatah, have gathered in Gaza near the Erez checkpoint on the border with Israel in an attempt to leave the enclave.

"We ask our President Mahmoud Abbas and the other side [Israel] to help us leave this place," an official of a pro-presidential structure said. "Our lives are in danger, we cannot stay here any more. If we return, we will be killed."

Egypt has expressed full support for the new Palestinian government and urged the international community to follow suit. "Egypt hails the new government led by Salam Fayyad and wishes him success in attaining his objectives," Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit said.