JERUSALEM (JTA) – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad after an internal power struggle.
Abbas accepted the resignation Saturday at a meeting of the two Palestinian leaders at P.A. headquarters in Ramallah. Fayyad reportedly had offered his resignation earlier in the week.
Abbas asked Fayyad to stay on and lead a caretaker government until a new government is formed, the WAFA-Palestine News Service reported.
The government will be formed after seats are redistributed in the Hamas politburo, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported. New elections have not yet been scheduled, as the two major parties, Hamas and Fatah, work toward reconciliation.
In the past few weeks, already tense relations between Fayyad and Abbas reportedly deteriorated due to major disagreements over government policy in the Palestinian Authority and rumors that Abbas would fire Fayyad, who also serves as finance minister.
Following the resignation, the United States praised Fayyad and thanked him for his leadership.
"We recognize the important roles played by both President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, and appreciate both of their efforts as we and others work to support establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state," said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. "Prime Minister Fayyad has been a strong partner to the international community and a leader in promoting economic growth, state building and security for the Palestinian people. We look to all Palestinian leaders to support these efforts."
Fayyad, who was educated in the United States, had the backing of President Obama and other Western leaders, who believed him to be essential to building an independent Palestinian state.