Palestinian premier Fayyad resigns in ‘reconciliation’ bid (Lead)

March 8th, 2009 - 1:06 am ICT by IANS  

Ramallah, March 7 (DPA) Palestinian acting premier Salam Fayyad stepped down Saturday saying he wanted to pave the way for reconciliation between the Hamas movement and President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah.
However, Abbas promptly asked Fayyad to stay in office until “results of national unity talks become clear”.

Abbas confirmed at a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organisation held in Ramallah that Fayyad had submitted his resignation “to strengthen and support national unity talks”.

Among the issues discussed at the meeting is the formation of a government acceptable to all factions, particularly arch-rivals Fatah and Hamas.

Abbas said he expected this government to accept past agreements which the Palestinian Authority had signed with Israel, and prepare the country for presidential and legislative elections by Jan 24 next year.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip since June 2007, has rejected these conditions from Abbas, which could derail the reconciliation talks.

In initial reaction, Hamas hailed Fayyad’s resignation announcement, saying his government had been illegal from the outset - but ruled out that the resignation was related to the unity talks.

“We think the resignation comes as part of personal differences and disputes over power between Abbas and Fayyad,” said Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman in Gaza.

Abbas appointed Fayyad to form the government in 2007 as part of his efforts to consolidate his rule in West Bank after Hamas routed pro-Abbas forces and seized control of Gaza Strip.

“This is an expected end for this government because it was illegally built according to personal interests. It destroyed the Palestinian people’s interest,” Barhoum added.

Fayyad, in a statement issued by his office, said he submitted his resignation to Abbas “which would go into effect as soon as a national unity government is formed”.

He said he took this step to give support for national unity talks and in light of calls for establishing a government of national


Abbas appointed Fayyad as prime minister immediately after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

Hamas refused to recognize the Fayyad government, describing it as “illigimate” and would most likely not accept him as prime miniter of a new government emerging from the national unity talks.

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