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Official: PM withdraws resignation

June 21, 2013 8:45 P.M. (Updated: June 24, 2013 9:30 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Newly-appointed Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah is expected to formally withdraw his resignation after a second meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas, a senior official said Friday.

According to the knowledgeable official, Hamdallah will make a final decision after a new meeting with Abbas on Saturday. The official said Friday's talks were positive.

Hamdallah left an initial meeting with the president without making any statements to the press, and the president's office did not comment following the meeting.

Abbas has made intensive efforts to persuade Hamdallah not to resign.

Tayib Abdul-Rahim, Abbas' top aide, and intelligence chief Majid Faraj left Hamdallah's home in Anabta on Thursday evening after more than three hours of talks trying to convince him to reconsider.

The premier submitted his resignation to Abbas earlier the same day following a heated argument between his deputies Muhammad Mustafa and Ziad Abu Amr.

A 25-member cabinet under Hamdallah's leadership was sworn in on June 6 and, notably, included the appointment of two deputy prime ministers, Ziad Abu Amr and Mohammed Mustafa.

Mustafa, who heads the Palestine Investment Fund and was handed the role of economic adviser, was initially tipped as a possible successor to Fayyad.

When the new government was sworn in, it was he who held the first news conference following its initial cabinet meeting on June 11, not Hamdallah, in a move that raised a few eyebrows.

Hamdallah, an independent considered close to Abbas's ruling Fatah faction who was head of Al-Najah University in Nablus and secretary general of the Central Election Commission, quickly pledged after his nomination to follow a similar path to Fayyad and said he would leave the government line-up largely unchanged.

And he made clear he would quickly step aside in the summer after the planned formation of a government of national unity comprising Abbas's Fatah and its Islamist rival, Hamas.

Fayyad resigned in mid-April after months of difficult relations with Abbas which hit a crisis over the resignation of finance minister Nabil Qassis, which the premier accepted but the president did not.

That power struggle resulted in Fayyad stepping down but staying on as caretaker prime minister upon Abbas's request, with his term drawing to a close on June 2.

Fayyad was widely respected by the international community for building a sound institutional framework for the Palestinian Authority, and his resignation sparked concern over who would take up his mantle.
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