Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad signaled on Monday he is ready to step aside to help reconcile the two rival factions of the Palestinian national movement and pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections.
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The departure of the US-educated former World Bank economist, 59, would be a concession by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the mainly secular Fatah movement which is dominant in the West Bank, to his Islamist rivals Hamas, who control the Gaza Strip.
Abbas will call in a speech on Wednesday for a government of independent experts to prepare for the elections, presidential adviser Nemir Hammad told Reuters.
This scenario was part of a reconciliation deal signed last April but never implemented. Elections were last held in 2006.
Abbas is also due to hold face-to-face talks in Cairo this month with
his arch-rival, the exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. One official
said the meeting could bring reconciliation closer "should Abbas abandon
his commitment to Fayyad" as his candidate to head the caretaker
Fayyad, appointed by Abbas in 2007, is credited with revitalizing the
economy and building institutions needed to set the Palestinian
Authority on the path to full statehood. But Hamas, which accuses him of
helping Israel to blockade the Gaza Strip, has never recognized him.
"I say again it is time to end division," Fayyad told the Al-Quds
newspaper. "I call upon all factions and political parties to agree on a
new prime minister. I was never an obstacle to the implementation of
the reconciliation and I refuse to be used as a pretext for continuing