Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah left, meets with top Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Hamiyeh, right, in Gaza City, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
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The new Palestinian unity government held a Cabinet meeting in the war-battered Gaza Strip for the first time Thursday, marking the end of more than seven years of absolute Hamas control of the coastal territory.The Cabinet meeting came three days before an international pledging conference in Cairo where Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to seek $4 billion for Gaza reconstruction after a 50-day war there this summer between Israel and Hamas.Hamas has said it would allow the ministers, who report to Abbas, to operate freely in Gaza.Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and 11 ministers arrived Thursday in Gaza from the West Bank, joining five colleagues who were already present in Gaza.Haniyeh had served as prime minister for both the West Bank and Gaza after Hamas won parliament elections in 2006 . He was fired by Abbas a year later, after Hamas seized Gaza by force. Israel initially refused to deal with the unity government because it is backed by Hamas.
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