The Palestinian Prime Minister in the West Bank has resigned from his post just two weeks after being sworn into office. The reason for Rami Al-Hamadallah's departure has been given as a dispute with President Mahmoud Abbas over the prime minister's powers.
Al-Hamadallah was nominated for the role unilaterally by Abbas with no reference to the Palestinian Legislative Council, which the president has more or less ignored since mid-2007. His supposedly "technocrat" government held its first meeting last week and resumed the process of normalising links with the Israelis almost immediately, with the finance minister meeting his Israeli counterpart a few days ago.
Abbas nominated two prominent local figures as deputies to Al-Hamadallah: Zial abu-Amr for political affairs and Mohamed Mustafa looking after the economic and financial portfolio. The prime minister had no political experience before he took the job.
Informed sources said that the reasons behind Al-Hamadallah's resignation are the same as those of his predecessor Salam Fayyad; disputes over power with the president. It is said that Abbas intended the two deputies to actually run the government with Al-Hamadallah performing a purely ceremonial function. "However," claimed the sources, "the prime minister refused to be a puppet."
Commenting on the resignation, a Hamas spokesman said, "This shows how ineffective unilateral steps are in Palestinian politics."