Abbas swears in Palestinian unity government

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has begun swearing in a unity government in a major step toward ending a seven-year rift between rival factions Hamas and Fatah.

The two sides negotiated until the last minute on Monday over the composition of the Cabinet. Hamas demanded that Abbas reverse a decision to remove the position of prisoner affairs minister from the government.

Moments before the start of the swearing-in ceremony, senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayeh said the dispute was resolved.

Hamas' TV station, al-Aqsa, carried the ceremony live.

The move will increase friction with Israel, which has made clear it will reject the new government.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

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