Middle East

Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah withdraws resignation

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah
Image caption Rami Hamdallah had not previously had a high-profile role in Palestinian politics

The Palestinian Authority's newly appointed prime minister has withdrawn his resignation following talks with President Mahmoud Abbas, officials say.

Rami Hamdallah threatened to quit on Thursday because of a "conflict over authority" within his cabinet, according to government sources.

An academic and political independent, Mr Hamdallah was sworn in on 6 June.

He replaced Salam Fayyad, who stepped down in April following a long-running dispute with the president.

Mr Hamdallah was given two deputies - one for political affairs and one for economic affairs - to make up for his lack of political experience. But the three men are reported to have been unable to work together.

If his resignation had been accepted, it would have left a damaging gap as the Palestinian Authority grapples with a financial crisis and the US leads efforts to revive peace talks with Israel, says the BBC's Yolande Knell in Ramallah.

Mr Hamdallah's cabinet had only met for the first time last week. It was dominated by members of the president's Fatah movement, one of the two main Palestinian factions.

At the time, commentators observed that the new prime minister would have little room for manoeuvre, our correspondent adds.

The other main faction, Hamas, described the appointment of Mr Hamdallah as "illegal" because it was not a unity government formed as a result of a reconciliation agreement in 2011.

'Transition period'

When he was appointed, Mr Hamdallah stated that his administration would rule only for a "transitional period", until a unity government was formed.

His appointment filled a political vacuum in the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the West Bank, and analysts say there will now be questions about how securely that vacuum has been filled.

Before his appointment as PM, Mr Hamdallah had been known for his 15-year tenure as head of the al-Najah National University, and did not have a high profile as a politician.

Relations between Fatah and Hamas collapsed in June 2007 when Mr Abbas ordered the dissolution of the Hamas-led unity government amid deadly clashes between the factions in Gaza. Hamas subsequently routed Fatah forces in Gaza and set up a rival government there.

The two factions are currently engaged in drawn-out reconciliation talks. Last month, officials on both sides announced plans to form a technocratic government by August that would then prepare for elections.