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Palestinian unity government resigns over Gaza row

The one-year-old Palestinian unity government, formed to heal rifts between Hamas and President Abbas's Fatah party, has resigned after a tussle over control of the Gaza Strip. It may take weeks to form a new government.

The Palestinian unity government resigned following a

deepening row over Gaza

after Hamas refused to cede its control of the Strip, it has been announced.

The government of national unity, formed last year in the hope of mending relations between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, resigned on Wednesday, an official said.

An aide to the president said Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah "handed his resignation to Abbas and Abbas ordered him to form a new government," but confusion reigned over when the government was likely to dissolve.

It was not clear what the next cabinet might look like, although Abbas' aide Nimr Hammad said discussions on forming a new government would include consultations with the various Palestinian factions, including the Islamist Hamas.

"The government will continue to function until we have a new one," a Palestine Liberation Organisation official said before the official resignation.

"I think what's coming now is the formation of a government with politicians, not a government of technocrats."

Hamas, the Islamist movement in de facto control of the Gaza Strip, and Abbas' Fatah movement agreed to the president‘s unity government which formed in June 2014 shortly after peace talks with Israel collapsed last year.

The aim of the government was to pave the way for long-overdue Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections within six months of its founding.

But Hamas refused to give up its control of the Gaza Strip to the unity government, making its work difficult and sabotaging election plans, aides said.

Hamas rejected the unilateral dissolution of the unity government, saying it had not been consulted.

Its spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: "Hamas rejects any one-sided change in the government without the agreement of all parties."

“No one told us anything about any decision to change and no one consulted with us about any change in the unity government."

Abbas told a meeting of his Fatah party´s Revolutionary Council in Ramallah Tuesday night that the government would be dissolved within 24 hours because "it is no longer able to continue with its work," Amin Maqboul, the chairman of the council, said on Wednesday.

The Palestinian president has been locked in a power struggle with Hamas since 2006, when the Islamists won parliamentary elections, exactly one year after the secular Abbas won presidential elections.

In 2007, Hamas seized sole control of the Gaza Strip by violently overpowering security forces answering to Abbas' Palestinian Authority.

Israel has been holding intermittent, off-the-record talks

with Hamas over the last few months aimed at avoiding another round of fighting, with Qatar, Europe and the United Nations mediating.

mh/rc (AFP, DPA)

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