RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the resignation of his newly appointed prime minister on Sunday, a spokesman said, leaving his Palestinian Authority in disarray at a time when he is focusing on a U.S. push to restart peace negotiations with Israel.
Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah had served only two weeks when he abruptly resigned last week over a conflict of authority with his deputies. Abbas initially asked him to reconsider, but ultimately accepted the resignation and asked Hamdallah to stay on as head of a caretaker government until a replacement is found, Nabil Abu Rdeneh told The Associated Press.
Abbas appointed Hamdallah, a university dean and political novice, earlier this month in an apparent move to consolidate power. Hamdallah replaced internationally known economist Salam Fayyad, who had clashed with Abbas.
The prime minister heads the Palestinian Authority, the self-rule government in parts of the West Bank that handles day-to-day affairs of Palestinians.
While he is not involved in diplomacy, the timing of the change comes as a tricky time for Abbas. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is about to return to the region as part of his push to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Abbas has refused to resume negotiations so long as Israeli settlement construction continues in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. To get talks underway, it appears he will have to compromise on this key demand or face blame for failure of the U.S effort.
Hamdallah took office June 6 after unexpectedly being plucked by Abbas from a career in academia to replace Fayyad, a political independent who served for six years and was respected by the West as a pragmatist. Leading figures of Abbas’ Fatah movement clamored for Fayyad to be replaced, arguing that the prime minister should be close to Fatah. Hamdallah’s appointment was seen as a bid by Abbas to consolidate power.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.