Palestinian government resigns to seek new start

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Palestinian government resigns to seek new start

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The Palestinian government – under pressure after internal scandals and events elsewhere in the Arab world – has resigned, say officials in Ramallah.

President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to ask Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to form a new team ahead of planned elections later this year.

The government has been weakened by revelations that major concessions were offered to Israel during peace talks. On Saturday the chief Palestinian peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, stood down.

The latest move is also being seen as an attempt to show the government’s responding to events in Tunisia and Egypt.

For Abbas, the fall of his ally Hosni Mubarak was a bitter blow.

But the planned elections face one major obstacle.

Hamas, the Islamist movement which controls the Gaza strip, says it will not take part, arguing that Abbas has no legitimacy.

The Palestinian leader’s mandate ran out in January 2009 but was extended until new polls could be held.

Elections set for last year were put back because of disputes between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah movement.