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August 13, 2013 11:55 am

In About Face, PA’s Abbas Asks Officially-Resigned PM Hamdallah to Form New Government

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Mahmoud Abbas. Photo: Olivier Pacteau.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked officially-resigned former PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah Tuesday to form a new government within the next five weeks, Ma’an News Agency reported, as peace talks with Israel are set to resume Wednesday.

Hamdallah resigned on June 23, after just over two weeks on the job over disagreements with the PA president, but, in agreeing now to form the new government he may be signalling that his differences with Abbas are a thing of the past, Reuters reported. Hamdallah had been incensed by Abbas’ decision to appoint two deputies under him in newly created positions, Ma’an reported, citing sources in his office.

According to Reuters, the move undermines any chance at reconciliation between terror group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and Abbas’s Fatah political party, which governs the Palestinian controlled areas of the West Bank. The two sides, which have been locked in a bitter dispute since 2007, agreed earlier this year to form a unity government made up of technocrats by a self-imposed deadline that expires tomorrow.

Hamas, which rejects a negotiated solution to the Arab conflict with Israel, branded Hamdallah’s original appointment as “illegal.”

Hamdallah will probably be granted full authority to choose his cabinet, a senior Palestinian official told Reuters. The official added that his decision to return may reflect a deal with Abbas that would  give him more leeway to govern.

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