Last updated: 2 June, 2013

Uncertainty as Palestinian prime minister’s term ends

Outgoing Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad was meeting with his cabinet on Sunday evening to discuss the way forward as his term as caretaker premier formally drew to a close.

Fayyad, a political independent, resigned on April 13 after months of tension with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, despite US efforts to keep him in place.

He stayed on in a caretaker role which formally ends on Sunday night.

But sources in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) said there had been no consultations on forming a new government so far.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, they said Fayyad’s outgoing government would meet on Sunday evening to discuss the way forward after his term in office ended.

Following Fayyad’s resignation, Abbas asked him to stay on in a caretaker role.

On April 27, Abbas announced that consultations had started to form a unity government under his own leadership, in accordance with a long-delayed reconciliation deal between his Fatah faction and the rival Islamist movement Hamas.

Palestinian Basic Law stipulates that the person charged with forming a new government then has three weeks to choose a new lineup, which can then be extended by another two if the issue is not resolved within that timeframe.

That five-week period ends at midnight on Sunday.

PLO Executive Commitee member Wasil Abu Yussef confirmed that the legal caretaker period following Fayyad’s resignation would end by Monday, and accordingly there must be a new government.

But Saleh Rafat, who also belongs to the PLO’s decision-making body, told AFP he was unaware of any factions having been consulted on the formation of a government until now.

“At the Executive Committee’s last meeting, the subject of the government was not raised,” he said.

Outgoing labour minister Ahmad al-Majdalani said it would likely mean a regular cabinet would have to be formed until the two factions managed to piece together the planned unity government.

“As long as Fatah and Hamas don’t come to an agreement and set a new timetable for their consultations, it means president Abbas will have to charge a new individual with forming a new, regular Palestinian government.”

Last month, Fatah and Hamas agreed to set a three-month timetable for forming a unity government.

Establishing a unity government and holding elections was one of the aims of a reconciliation deal the two nationalist movements signed two years ago, but it has never been implemented.