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Abbas accepts Palestinian PM's resignation

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the resignation of his newly appointed prime minister on Sunday, a spokesman said, leaving his Palestinian Authority in disarray at a time when he is focusing on a U.S. push to restart peace negotiations with Israel.

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah had served only two weeks when he resigned last week over a conflict of authority with his deputies. Abbas initially asked him to reconsider, but ultimately accepted the resignation and asked Hamdallah to stay on as head of a caretaker government until a replacement is found, Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh told The Associated Press.

Such a caretaker government could remain in place for weeks. There was no sign of a likely candidate to succeed Hamdallah. Abbas is likely to look for someone who has the blessing of the Western donor countries that prop up the Palestinian Authority, has experience in economic affairs and is close to his Fatah movement.

Abbas appointed Hamdallah, a university president and political novice, earlier this month in an apparent move to consolidate power. Hamdallah replaced internationally known economist Salam Fayyad, who had clashed with Abbas.

While he is not involved in diplomacy, the timing of the change comes at a tricky time for Abbas. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is about to return to the region as part of his push to renew the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. -- AP

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