RAMALLAH, West Bank, (Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s government, which resigned last month, will stay on until the formation of a new government, Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said on Thursday. He told Reuters that Abbas had rejected the resignation of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and asked him to stay on until Abbas’s Fatah Faction and Hamas Islamists, now negotiating a new interim government in Cairo, reach a deal.
“This government will stay on to avoid having a constitutional vacuum, Malki said. “We hope that the dialogue (in Cairo) will be crowned by an agreement on a national consensus government.”
Former World Bank economist Fayyad tendered his resignation on March 7, effective March 31, in order to help rival Palestinian factions reach an agreement.
Officials made clear on Monday that he would be staying on in the post until the Cairo talks were completed and on Wednesday Fayyyad confirmed he was not leaving yet.
Fatah and Hamas, which drove out Abbas forces in a brief civil war in 2007 culminating in seizure of Gaza Strip, on Wednesday began a third round of talks in Cairo aimed at forging a possible unity government deal.
“We’ll decide on the way forward after the current round of talks (in Cairo) and after consultations with our Arab brothers,” Abbas was quoted as saying on Palestine television. Fayyad’s government had submitted its resignation to “facilitate the national dialogue”, Abbas added.
Chances of reaching a deal between Fatah and Hamas are slim, which could mean that Fayyad, whom Abbas appointed immediately after Hamas took control of Gaza in June 2007, stays on longer.
Diplomats say Fayyad — who says he won’t reconsider resignation — has grown increasingly frustrated both by a lack of progress in peace talks with Israel and by opposition within Abbas’s secular Fatah faction to his control over the Palestinian Authority’s purse strings.
Hamas won a 2006 Palestinian election but its government was shunned by Western powers for refusing to recognise Israel, renounce violence and abide by interim peace deals with the Jewish state.