[JURIST] UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry [official website] on Sunday met [UN news centre report] with ministers of the new Palestinian unity government in the Gaza Strip. Serry's UN envoy are the first international officials to meet with the new unity government, announced by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [Britannica profile] last week. President Abbas' announcement followed the signing of a reconciliation deal in April between rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas. The new unity government replaces the two autonomous Palestinian administrations that governed Gaza and the Palestinian portions of the West Bank. Serry held a joint meeting with new ministers of the government, in which he assured the UN's full support and pledged to "increase its considerable programme of works in Gaza," including in the priority areas of water and energy. The new unity government reportedly faces numerous obstacles [AP report] moving forward with reconciliation, including who should pay the salaries of more than 40,000 government employees hired by Hamas in the Gaza Strip since 2007. In addition uncertainty surrounds whether Hamas will accept Abbas' demand that Fatah forces be deployed at Gaza's border with Egypt as a way of easing a blockade ongoing since 2007.
The creation of a unified Palestinian government comes as tensions have risen in the Levant between Palestine and Israel. Earlier this week UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon [official website] urged [JURIST report] Israel to release Palestinian administrative detainees over fears of failing health in a hunger strike. In April an independent UN human rights expert urged [JURIST report] Israel to prevent settlers from taking over a building in the West Bank city of Hebron. Also in April the United Nations confirmed [JURIST report] that Palestinian officials have delivered letters of accession to 15 international conventions and treaties.