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Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayad said after being sworn in yesterday that his first priority would be to restore security to the PA.

"The first priority of our government is security and the security situation," he told reporters. "The mission will be difficult and hard, but not impossible," he said.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas selected Fayad to head the emergency cabinet, which replaces the Hamas-Fatah coalition dissolved by Abbas after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip by force last week.

Hamas said it would not recognize the new government, which it called "illegal."

Abbas also outlawed the Hamas militias and vowed to push to restore foreign aid to the Palestinians after a punishing 15-month boycott.

"The first goal we are working to achieve is to end the siege and have a unique relationship with all the nations," Abbas said after swearing in the new cabinet.

The hurried swearing-in ceremony of the new cabinet left the Palestinians effectively with two governments - the Hamas leadership headed by deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza and the new cabinet led by the Western-backed economist Salam Fayad in the West Bank.

Fayad, an independent, will retain his post as finance minister and also serve as foreign minister in the emergency government. The small cabinet is dominated by independents, including human rights activists and business people.

In his speech, Fayad stressed that the government represented Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Addressing the Palestinians in Gaza, he said: "You are in our hearts, and the top of our agenda. The dark images, the shameful things that are alien to our traditions ... are not going to stop us. It is time to work together for Palestine."

Abbas cleared the way for the cabinet to take power by issuing a decree that annulled a law requiring it be approved by parliament, which is dominated by Hamas. He also outlawed Hamas' militias "for staging a military coup against the Palestinian legitimacy and its institutions."

However, Abbas' attempts to assert control only deepened the Palestinian divisions."The Islamic Resistance Movement considers this government illegitimate and illegal," said Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan. "We will not recognize it. We will not work with it."

The new cabinet consists of 12 ministers, all independents who are not affiliated with Fatah. Some ministers are technocrats, like Transport Minister Dr. Mashhur Abu Dakka.

The Interior Ministry is headed by Abdel Razek al-Yihyeh, a PLO veteran and interior minister in Yasser Arafat's government, who will also be responsible for security.

The remainder of the cabinet are Justice and Information Minister Riyad al Maliki; Municipal Affairs Minister Ziyad al-Bandak; Prisoners, Youth and Sports Minister Ashraf al-Ajarmi; Communications, Economy and Public Works Minister Kamel al-Hasuna; Tourism and Women's Affairs Minister Hulud Deibas; Education Minister Namis el-Alami; Planning Minister Samir Abdullah; Health Minister Fat'hi Abu Marli; and Minister of Religious Affairs Jamal Bawatna, who is also the mufti of the Ramallah district.