OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: A delegation of European diplomats travelled to the Gaza Strip to meet the Gaza-based ministers of a new Palestinian unity government, an EU official said Wednesday.
John Gatt-Rutter, the EU representative to the West Bank and Gaza, was joined at the Tuesday meeting by French, Swedish, Danish and Portuguese diplomats, the official told AFP, speaking anonymously.
Four of the 17 ministers in the Palestinian unity government are based in Gaza.
The government was sworn in on June 2 under a reconciliation deal between Gaza rulers Hamas and the West Bank-based Palestinian leadership, in a move to end seven years of rival administrations in the two territories.
The meeting was an opportunity to the congratulate the Gaza ministers and receive updates on the situation in the Palestinian territory, but also "a political message that we support the national consensus government," the official said.
"It was a follow-up to the statement we issued," he said of remarks by EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton, who welcomed the new Palestinian government.
Washington has also agreed to work with the new government, prompting a furious reaction from Israel, which had urged the international community not to rush into recognising the new entity.
The Palestinian cabinet has been set up as a non-partisan, "independent government" of technocrats.
It is tasked with organising general elections by year-end and has no political mandate.