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Palestinian Authority to disband cabinet, form new government

The Palestinian Authority cabinet will be dissolved and reconfigured
File photo shows Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

The Palestinian Authority (PA) government will be dissolved within 24 hours, a source from President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party said on Tuesday, AFP reported.

"Within 24 hours the Palestinian government will resign," Abbas told members of the Revolutionary Council of his Fatah movement in Ramallah, according to several officials who attended the meeting. 

Earlier, the Council's secretary general had told AFP that the government would step down within 24 hours over its inability to act in the Gaza Strip.

"The government will resign in the next 24 hours because this one is weak and there is no chance that Hamas will allow it to work in Gaza," said Secretary General Amin Maqbul.

But Ihab Bseiso, spokesman for the consensus government, told AFP he was unaware of the matter. 

"We had a meeting today and we didn't discuss this issue," he said.

According to the Palestinian news agency Ma'an, the new government will take "several days" to form.

An official in the president's office said Abbas would meet Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah at midday (0900 GMT) on Wednesday.

Officials did not say whether the consultations to form a new government would include Hamas.

The decision comes as efforts to reform the existing West Bank-Gaza unity government have proven largely futile.

Hamas appeared to react negatively to the news.

"President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to dismiss the unity government is the final nail in the coffin of Palestinian reconciliation," the Anadolu Agency quoted an unnamed Hamas leader as saying on its Arabic Twitter account.

Middle East Eye's calls to Fatah and Hamas officials went unanswered late Tuesday.

“Abo Mazen said that he will resign the government in the next 24 hours. So we are waiting and expecting that he will do this in the next couple of hours but he gave no explanations as to why," MEE contributor Mohammed Omer on the ground in Gaza said via telephone. 

“It could be that Abu Mazen is not happy with the deal that Hamas is trying to strike in terms of reconstruction and easing of the blockade and that he worries Hamas is trying to create a three tier Palestinian state. Or it could all be part of a bigger PA game, but we will begin to understand more over the coming hours as more information begins to come out.” 

The Fatah-led PA and the Gaza-based Hamas movement signed a reconciliation agreement last June that nominally ended some seven years of division between the rival political factions.

Prior to the agreement, Hamas led a separate government in the Gaza Strip, and due in part to the unity deal's failure to make significant changes on the ground in Gaza, Hamas remains the de facto ruler of the coastal enclave.