The 19 new cabinet ministers of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) were sworn in to office before Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah on Tuesday.
The swearing-in ceremony was held after the cabinet won a votingof confidence by a majority of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members.
Shortly after the voting, the new ministers stood in front of Arafat, and each one put his hand on his holy book. Moslems swore on the Quran and Christians swore on the Bible.
Minister of Supplies Abdel Aziz Shahin from Gaza was not able tobe sworn in as he was prevented by Israel to reach Ramallah, in addition to Minister of Justice Zuhair Sourani, who is out of the country to attend a meeting for Arab Justice Ministers in Beirut.
Well-informed sources said that the first meeting of the cabinetchaired by Arafat is to be held in Ramallah on Wednesday to discuss several political and internal issues.
Arafat told reporters that the swearing-in is the first step toward finalizing the process of reforms, adding that he is happy with what happened today and the Palestinian democracy.
However, a PLC member Husam Khader, who refused to attend Tuesday's PLC session in Ramallah, said today's voting is a real disaster to the Palestinian democracy.
"It was not a victory at all, it was a loss and a defeat to the Palestinian national stream which leads the Intifada," Khader said,adding this government is not going to bring anything new since it has not been totally changed.
Arafat announced a 19-member cabinet Tuesday at the PLC special session for a vote of confidence.
15 of them are members of the former cabinet that resigned on Sept. 11 to avoid a voting of no confidence by the vast majority ofthe PLC members while the four others are new faces appointed by Arafat.
A majority of PLC members gave confidence to the new cabinet later at the session with 56 voted for, 18 against and five absent.