JERUSALEM, Israel -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Fatah faction leaders in Ramallah to look for his replacement. Abbas has threatened to resign many times in the past but he has always been talked into staying.
"You have 10 days until I come back from the United States and you must look for a new president," a meeting participant quoted Abbas as saying, the Saudi newspaper al-Watan reported on Wednesday.
According to the source, Abbas said the stalemated peace process with Israel, the lack of reconciliation with Hamas, and the recent spate of social protests in the West Bank over the rising cost of living all factored into his decision to step down.
At the meeting, Fatah leaders discussed solutions to the P.A.'s ongoing economic woes, focusing primarily on severing economic and security ties with Israel. They also expressed their support for Abbas' unilateral statehood bid next week before the U.N. General Assembly.
Abbas' term as president expired in January 2009, but the rivalry between the P.A.'s Fatah faction and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, is blamed for postponing elections.
In June 2007, Hamas defeated P.A. security forces in Gaza in a violent military coup that ended a three-month-old unity government.
Abbas dissolved the coalition and formed an emergency government, deposing Gaza-based Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh as prime minister and appointing Salam Fayyad in his place. The two factions have been at odds ever since.