15 Feb 2011

Cabinet reshuffle for Palestinian govt

3:27 pm on 15 February 2011

Ministers in the Palestinian government have resigned as part of a cabinet reshuffle.

President Mahmoud Abbas is asking prime minister Salam Fayyad to appoint a new cabinet.

The Palestinian Authority said on Saturday that it wanted to hold presidential and legislative elections by September.

Observers say the move is an attempt to show that Palestinian leaders are responding to events in Egypt and Tunisia, where popular uprisings have led to the resignation of long-serving Presidents.

Mr Abbas' mandate as president expired in January 2009, but was extended until new polls to avoid a vacuum.

The BBC reports elections planned for January 2010 were postponed because of disagreements between Hamas and Fatah.

Hamas says the election is intended to divert attention from a scandal caused by documents leaked by Al-Jazeera TV, which showed that major concessions were offered to Israel during peace talks in 2008.