Palestine government resigns in major political shake-up
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has resigned and dissolved the cabinet ahead of Palestinian elections due to be held in September. The move was not entirely unexpected. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas announced a cabinet reshuffle back in November, but the expected changes were delayed by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
The dissolution of the government was announced at an early-morning cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Immediately afterwards, Fayyad handed Abbas an official letter of resignation. Abbas is expected to ask Fayyad to stay on as premier, a post he has held since 2007.
A new government will set about organising the final stages of a two-year plan for building the institutions of state which is due to be completed by August.
It will also have to draw up plans for holding presidential and parliamentary elections by September - a deadline announced by the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation on Saturday.
Local elections are also due to be held on 9 July. This will be the first time Palestinians have gone to the polls since 2006.
Both elections have been rejected by Gaza's Hamas rulers. Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 after a bloody struggle against the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority of Abbas which is dominated by the secular Fatah movement.
Hamas has refused to recognise the authority of Abbas since his term as president ended in January 2009.
The decision by the group not to take part in elections means that polls will likely only be held in the West Bank.