Abbas accepts Hamdallah’s resignation, asks government to stay on for transition
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Abbas accepts Hamdallah’s resignation, asks government to stay on for transition

PA president reportedly set to begin consultations to name new ministers from PLO, ending unity bid with Hamas

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah attend the presentation of the preliminary results of the general census of population, housing and establishments, in Ramallah, in the West Bank on March 28, 2018. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah attend the presentation of the preliminary results of the general census of population, housing and establishments, in Ramallah, in the West Bank on March 28, 2018. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the resignation of his prime minister Tuesday, but asked the government to stay on until a new one is formed.

PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and his government tendered their resignations earlier Tuesday, marking the end of a failed unity bid with rival Hamas.

Abbas accepted the resignations but assigned Hamdallah and his fellow ministers the task of maintaining the PA government’s operations until the formation of a new one, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

The government’s decision to resign came two days after the Fatah Central Committee recommended the formation of a government made up of representatives of factions in the Palestine Liberation Organization and independent personalities, leaving out Hamas, a terror group that is the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip.

Members of of Hamas’s armed wing ride vehicles on the streets of Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, Dec. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the government’s resignation on Tuesday, saying it was aimed at paving the way for the establishment of “a new separatist government” that serves Abbas and his Fatah party’s interests.

Abbas was set to begin consultations to form a government made up of PLO factions, with the goal of preparing for new legislative elections, Wafa reported. It is not clear who will be tapped as the next prime minister.

Abbas and other PA officials have recently pledged to hold new parliamentary elections in the coming six months, but how that would be possible in the Gaza Strip is unclear. Hamas has controlled the coastal enclave since ousting the Fatah-dominated PA in 2007 from the territory.

Fatah Central Committee Member Azzam al-Ahmad said on Sunday that the Palestinians planned to form a new government in response to Hamas not handing over the Gaza Strip to the PA.

Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas walk in the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on January 7, 2019 (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

“We plan to form a new government of factions soon in response to Hamas’s failure to undertake its national responsibility in handing over the Gaza Strip to the legitimate PA,” the senior Fatah and PLO official told The Times of Israel. “Hamas helped form the last government. This time, it will not participate in its formation or be a part of it.”

The Palestinians formed the current PA government in 2014 with the support of Fatah and Hamas. Since its establishment, however, Abbas has carried out at least two cabinet reshuffles without Hamas’s consent.

Fatah and Hamas have been in disputes since 2007, when the terror group forcibly ousted the Fatah-dominated PA from Gaza.

Palestinians wave national flags as they march in the streets of the West Bank city of Ramallah, calling for the cessation of divisions between Fatah and Hamas and the unification of the West Bank and Gaza Strip on January 12, 2019. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

While the two rival parties have signed multiple agreements to advance reconciliation and bring Gaza and the West Bank under one government, they have not implemented them.

A Hamas official in Gaza said on Sunday the formation of any new government without consulting the terror group would be “weak” and “unrepresentative of the Palestinian people.”

Hamdallah, a former president of An-Najah University, where he was once an English professor, was expected to return to academic work, according to a Palestinian official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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