New Palestinian premier wants to resign

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The new Palestinian prime minister submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, after two weeks on the job, because of a conflict over authority.

It was unclear if Rami Hamdallah, a former university dean, would step down or was using the threat of resignation to obtain more powers from Abbas.

Hamdallah’s move signaled disarray in the Palestinian Authority, the self-rule government in parts of the West Bank, and is potentially embarrassing for Abbas.


Abbas received the resignation and will consider it, said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, an adviser to the president.

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The prime minister heads the Palestinian Authority, which handles day-to-day affairs of Palestinians.

Abbas is in charge overall and deals with diplomacy, particularly efforts to restart negotiations with Israel on the terms of a Palestinian state. Those talks broke down in 2008, but Secretary of State John Kerry has been trying to restart them.

Hamdallah took office June 6 after unexpectedly being plucked by Abbas from a career in academia to replace Salam Fayyad, who resigned as prime minister in April. Abbas gave Hamdallah two deputies, one for political and one for economic affairs, apparently to make up for his lack of political experience.

Hamdallah’s office said Thursday that he submitted his resignation to Abbas because of a ‘‘conflict over authority.’’


Abbas had frequently clashed with Fayyad, a political independent who served for six years and was respected by the West as a pragmatist. Leading figures of Abbas’s Fatah movement clamored for Fayyad to be replaced, arguing that the prime minister should be close to Fatah. Hamdallah’s appointment was seen as a bid by Abbas to consolidate power.

In a separate development Thursday, a senior Israeli Cabinet minister warmly endorsed a recently renewed Arab peace initiative, saying it was a good basis for negotiations with the Palestinians.

Yaakov Peri’s comments were the strongest by an Israeli official in favor of the Arab initiative since it was relaunched in April. The initiative would end decades of official refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist in exchange for a withdrawal from most territories captured in 1967.

The comments appeared timed to support efforts to mediate a resumption of talks between the two sides by Kerry, ahead of his visit to the region next week.

As the former head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service, Peri’s voice is respected across party lines.