Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad offered his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday following a rift between the two men over government policy, two sources told Reuters.
Abbas was due to return to the occupied West Bank from Jordan on Thursday, and it was not immediately clear whether he would accept the resignation of the U.S.-educated economist.
A spokeswoman at Fayyad’s office declined to comment on the reports, which followed persistent rumors that Abbas wanted to sack Fayyad following internal political wrangling.
Three officials confirmed the offer of resignation in comments to The Associated Press but insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue with media. Two of the officials spoke on Thursday.
They also disagreed on when Fayyad offered his resignation. One official said it was in February while two said it was last week.
Western governments have offered staunch support to Fayyad ever since he became prime minister in 2007, seeing him as the architect of Palestinian state-building efforts, and his departure could complicate their ties with Abbas.
Long-strained relations between the 61-year-old Fayyad and Abbas worsened last month when the prime minister accepted the resignation of his finance minister, against the wishes of the president.
Initially successful in revitalizing a sluggish Palestinian economy, Fayyad ran into trouble last year when Israel and the United States withheld vital funds to punish the Palestinians for seeking de facto statehood at the United Nations.
They said the unilateral move ran counter to previous accords and their financial penalties meant Palestinian public sector salaries went unpaid, stoking street protests.
Abbas’s Fatah party accused Fayyad of failing to foresee the turmoil and the party’s council issued an unprecedented rebuke last week, saying: “The policies of the current government are improvised and confused in many financial and economic issues.”