Palestinian Authority Cabinet resigns

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — The Palestinian prime minister dissolved his Cabinet on Monday, in what appeared to be a new gesture inspired by unrest rocking the Arab world.

The internationally backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has been trying to show that it’s responsive to demands for reform, following the mass protests that have toppled the autocratic leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. Over the weekend, the government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced it will hold long-overdue elections by September.

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad now has six weeks to name a new Cabinet. Although Fayyad is a political independent, he is expected to replace a Cabinet currently dominated by technocrats with supporters of Abbas’ Fatah party in preparation for the elections, an aide said.

Abbas’ political rival, the Islamic militant Hamas, dismissed the promise of elections and the Cabinet shakeup as empty gestures. Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, after seizing the territory — sought by the Palestinians along with the West Bank for their state — from Abbas’ forces in 2007. Hamas has said it will not participate in elections, but said it has its own Cabinet reshuffle in the works.

Also Monday, the Palestinian representative to the Arab League said the Palestinians will present a resolution to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, seeking a condemnation of Israeli settlement construction. Barakat al-Farra said 14 members of the council support the resolution but that he fears the United States — one of five permanent members with veto powers — will vote against it.

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