PA President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Saturday, despite U.S. pleas for the latter to stay on, the official PA news agency Wafa reported.
“Fayyad met Abbas for half an hour in the president’s headquarters in Ramallah in the West Bank and officially handed him his written resignation,” a Palestinian official told AFP.
Abbas requested that Fayyad stay on as PM until a replacement is found.
The two men have been at odds over Fatah criticism of Fayyad’s economic policies, but the State Dept. continued to push hard for the U.S.-educated PM, an economist, to stay on.
Late on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Abbas to press him to find common ground with his prime minister, a Palestinian official told Ma’an.
Fayyad and Abbas have been fighting in recent weeks over the resignation of Finance Minister Nabil Qassis. Fayyad agreed to the resignation but Abbas did not.
Fayyad held the finance portfolio in addition to being the PM before Qassis’s appointment in May 2012.
A meeting planned for Thursday at which Fayyad reportedly intended to hand in his resignation was postponed after Washington insisted that to the best of its knowledge the prime minister was “sticking around,” according to Ma’an.
Last week, the Fatah Revolutionary Council for the first time openly criticized the Fayyad government’s economic policy.
The Palestinian Authority is in grave financial crisis, which Ma’an says it blames partly on foreign countries failing to send in promised funds, despite the fact that the U.S. Congress “quietly” unblocked $500 million in aid last month.
Fayyad is credited with building a Western style institutional framework for the Palestinian Authority in the areas of Judea and Samaria under its control.
Fayyad throws into question the PA’s agreement with Israel, announced by Kerry during his recent visit, to “promote economic development in the West Bank.” The timing of the resignation is a blow to American prestige as well as the prospects of the MEPP.