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Palestinian prime minister, government resign

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RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah has tendered his resignation and that of his unity government to President Mahmoud Abbas, he said on Tuesday, dealing a blow to faltering reconciliation efforts with Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas.

Abbas said in a statement that he accepted the resignation and that the government will “continue its duties until the new government is formed.”

A Hamas official condemned the move as an attempt to marginalize and exclude the group from Palestinian politics.

Hamdallah, a little-known academic, headed the national unity government formed in 2014 and led the West Bank-based Fatah’s reconciliation efforts with Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007.

The two groups signed a reconciliation deal two years ago which set in motion a plan for Abbas’s Palestinian Authority to resume governing in Gaza and take control of the coastal enclave’s crossing points into Egypt and Israel.

But disputes over power-sharing and policy toward Israel have hampered the deal’s implementation.

“The president will begin consultation to form a political government made up by factions of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) that will prepare for the holding of new parliamentary election,” Abbas said.

Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by Robin Pomeroy