Abbas consolidates West Bank leadership
( AP ) - Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad resigned as head of an emergency government and was immediately appointed Saturday to lead an interim Cabinet, after a state of emergency imposed after Hamas' Gaza takeover expired.
Fayyad's resignation and reappointment were part of a move by moderate President Mahmoud Abbas to consolidate his control over the West Bank. Hamas has alleged that Abbas' decisions in the past month, including forming the emergency Cabinet, were not legal.
"This government, from the outset, is unconstitutional," Ahmed Bahar of Hamas, the acting parliament speaker, said Saturday.
The interim government will remain in place until Fayyad forms a new administration. By law, any new government requires parliament approval. However, the legislature has been paralyzed as a result of the power struggle between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement and is not expected to convene any time soon.
In a letter to Fayyad, Abbas said he accepted his resignation and asked him to form a new government. In the meantime, Fayyad will head a caretaker government, Abbas wrote.
The caretaker government will largely consist of the same ministers as the emergency administration. On Friday, just hours before the state of emergency expired, Abbas swore in three more ministers, bringing the total in the Cabinet from 13 to 16.
Abbas had fired the Hamas-led government last month, following Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza. At the time, he declared a state of emergency, and appointed Fayyad to head an emergency government.