Washington: The US on Wednesday welcomed the formation of the new Palestinian unity government and said it was willing to work with it while continuing to evaluate its composition and policies.
"(Palestinian) President (Mahmoud) Abbas has formed an interim technocratic government that does not include any ministers affiliated with Hamas. In fact, most of the key cabinet positions, including the prime minister, the two deputy prime ministers and the finance minister, are the same as in the prior government," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters.
They are all technocrats unaffiliated with any political party and are responsible for facilitating new elections, she said.
President Abbas made clear that this new technocratic government was committed to the principles of non-violence, negotiations, recognition of the state of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements, Quartet principles, prior obligations between the two parties and finally, to continue security coordination with Israel, she said.
"To be clear, moving forward, we will be judging this technocratic government by its actions. As we said, based on what we now know about the composition of this government, which has, again, no ministers affiliated with Hamas and is committed to the principles I just mentioned, we intend to work with it," Harf said.
"But we will be watching closely to ensure that it upholds those principles, and we will continue to evaluate the composition and policies of the new technocratic government and calibrate our approach accordingly," she said.
Hamas is a designated foreign terrorist organisation, she said, adding that the US does not and will not provide its assistance.
"Per longstanding US policy, we do not have any contact with Hamas. No members of Hamas and no ministers affiliated with Hamas, are part of this government," she said.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said the action by the Palestinian Authority is a gigantic step backward.
"Hamas is a terrorist organisation and its leaders continue to pursue the destruction of the state of Israel," he said.
"I stand with Israel and condemn the Palestinians` decision to form this new government, which is clearly backed by Hamas. We all hope that we will be able to have peace in the region, with stability and security for Israel. But the Palestinian Authority`s actions have only moved us further away from that goal," Reid said.
Senator Lindsey Graham also expressed his disappointment, alleging that President Abbas has decided to form a unity government with Hamas.
"This decision undercuts any hope of a viable peace process. I do not believe it is in our national security interest to begin a dialogue with a government that includes a terrorist organisation committed to the destruction of the state of Israel," Graham said.