Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah presented Wednesday the resignation of the unity government to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who charged him with forming a new government.
The Palestinian unity agreement signed in April 2014 sought to end seven years of bad blood between bitter rivals Fatah and Hamas and was among the causes for the collapse of US-mediated peace talks between Israel and the PA.
The move signals a fresh setback in efforts to reconcile Gaza, dominated by Hamas, with the West Bank, where Abbas’s Palestinian Authority rules.
Discussions to form a new government will reportedly include consultations with the various Palestinian factions, including Hamas.
A Palestine Liberation Organization official said that the government of technocrats formed last year to replace rival administrations in Gaza and the West Bank would likely be replaced with a government of politicians.
Officials have said the move had been under discussion for several months because of the cabinet’s inability to operate in the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip.
But Hamas rejected any unilateral dissolution of the unity government. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the Islamist movement had not been consulted and was opposed to any unilateral dissolution of the government. “Hamas rejects any one-sided change in the government without the agreement of all parties,” Zuhri told AFP today. “No one told us anything about any decision to change and no one consulted with us about any change in the unity government. Fatah acted on its own in all regards”.
The move comes against news that Hamas and Israel are conducting separate, indirect talks on ways to firm up an informal ceasefire agreement that took hold last August, ending a 50-day war in Gaza.
It was not clear whether Abbas’s announcement was linked to the talks, but the PLO official said he believed that it played a role in the decision.
Hamas violently ousted Abbas’s Fatah forces from Gaza in 2007 shortly after an election victory, leaving him governing just parts of the West Bank.