02/18/2006, 00.00
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Hamas-dominated parliament members sworn in

Leaders of the fundamentalist movement have described this as a "historic day". During the MPs' swearing in, Abu Mazen said: "Christians and Muslims are equal, and no one will be permitted to carry out sectarian actions".

Gaza (AsiaNews/Agencies) – "Palestinian citizens of Muslim and Christian faith have the same rights before the law," the Palestinian president said this morning in Ramallah. Abu Mazen was speaking during the inaugural address of the new Parliament, which from today onwards will be dominated de facto by the fundamentalist movement Hamas. This group garnered 74 out of the 132 seats up for grabs in political elections on 25 January, thus winning an absolute majority.

Abu Mazen said "no group would be authorised to implement sectarian actions" during the new legislature, and that "one of the main tasks of the new government" must be that of "protecting all sacred sites, Christian or Muslim".

"We are living a historic day," Mahmud Zahar, chief of the Hamas parliamentary group said from Gaza, where he is confined. "We have to be the new servants for the Palestinian issue, the Palestinian detainees, the Palestinian land, the Holy Land and also for the people," added the leader just after the swearing-in of the new MPs.

Among those sworn in was the leader of the Hamas list, Ismail Haniyeh, the man set to receive the appointment to form a new government from Abu Mazen. He took the floor after the president finished his address. "Current political differences in Palestine," he said, "will be resolved through dialogue."

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