x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Palestinian PM has offered his resignation, officials say

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has offered to resign because of an increasingly bitter dispute with President Mahmoud Abbas over the extent of his authority.

RAMALLAH, West Bank// Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has offered to resign because of an increasingly bitter dispute with President Mahmoud Abbas over the extent of his authority.

Mr Abbas has not responded to Mr Fayyad, who enjoys the support of the international community, particularly the United States.

It was unclear if Mr Abbas, who was expected back in the West Bank yesterday from a trip to Qatar, would accept Mr Fayyad's resignation at a time when the US is trying to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

As part of that effort, US Secretary of State John Kerry hopes to win Israeli approval for Palestinian economic projects in the West Bank. Mr Fayyad, a respected economist, is considered to be key to overseeing such projects.

Mr Fayyad has served since 2007 as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, the self-rule government that administers 38 per cent of the Israeli-controlled West Bank.

The relationship between Mr Fayyad and Mr Abbas has been tense for some time, and the prime minister told Mr Abbas already late last year that he wanted to quit.

Mr Abbas told Mr Fayyad repeatedly to wait with such a step, but the conflict between the two escalated last month over the resignation of Mr Fayyad's finance minister, Nabil Kassis. Mr Fayyad accepted the resignation, but Mr Abbas then overruled the prime minister, effectively challenging his right to hire and fire Cabinet ministers.

Mr Fayyad told confidants in recent days that he is determined to leave. The prime minister, a political independent, also complained about what he said was an attempt by leading members of Mr Abbas' Fatah movement to undermine him.

Three officials confirmed in interviews that Mr Fayyad offered his resignation to Mr Abbas. One said Mr Fayyad did so in person and in a letter to Abbas in mid-February, while two said Mr Fayyad sent such a letter through mediators to Mr Abbas last week.

The officials, two of whom spoke yesterday, insisted on anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Mr Abbas appointed Mr Fayyad to his post after Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007. Since then, the West Bank and Gaza have been run by separate governments, one led by Mr Fayyad in the West Bank and one run by Hamas in Gaza.