Palestine government resigns in power gambit

RAMALLAH (Palestinian Territories) • The Palestinian government submitted its resignation yesterday, a statement said, in a move seen as a bid by President Mahmoud Abbas to strengthen his position as a decade-old political split deepens.

Analysts view replacing Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah after five years as part of Mr Abbas' efforts to further isolate his political rival Hamas, who runs the Gaza Strip.

Mr Hamdallah's government will remain in place while a new administration is formed. "The government of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah submitted on Tuesday its resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas," official news agency Wafa said following a Cabinet meeting.

The government "will continue to serve our people wherever they are and shoulder all its responsibilities until a new government is formed", it added.

It was unclear how the change of government could impact policy. The secularist Mr Abbas remains the primary decision-maker and interlocutor with the international community.

Palestinian politics has essentially been paralysed since 2007, when Islamist group Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip from Mr Abbas' forces in a near civil war, a year after winning parliamentary elections. Since then, Mr Abbas' governments have maintained limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, while Hamas has led a rival government in the strip.

The division between the Palestinian parties is seen as a key issue preventing progress in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

The new government is expected to be made up only of parties that are members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which does not include Hamas or its ally Islamic Jihad.

Hamas condemned the government's resignation, saying Mr Abbas was seeking to establish a "separatist government" to serve his interests. "Our people need a national unity government," spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.

Fatah officials said they had begun consultations regarding forming a new government, though no time frame was announced.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2019, with the headline 'Palestine govt resigns in power gambit'. Print Edition | Subscribe