Fri, Apr 12, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Palestinian PM to quit in dispute over authority: officials

AP, 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, officials said yesterday.

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

It is not clear if Abbas, who is expected back in the West Bank yesterday from a trip to Qatar, will accept 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. Fayyad, a respected economist, is considered to be key to overseeing such projects.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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