'Dysfunctional' Palestinian cabinet resigns

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The Palestinian cabinet resigned yesterday, in an apparent attempt by President Mahmoud Abbas to demonstrate political reform after the uprising in Egypt. The shake-up could bolster Mr Abbas's standing among Palestinians, dissatisfied with a cabinet regarded as dysfunctional.

The new cabinet will be charged with preparing for elections that have been announced for later this year, and will also be expected to boost the government's profile as it seeks international backing in its standoff with Israel.

Hamas, which has sour relations with Abbas, says it will not take part in the ballot or recognise the results - a decision that will make it hard for Abbas to stage a credible vote.

The latest reshuffle had been demanded by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who has spearheaded efforts to create institutions for a Palestinian state. The Western-backed Fayyad will retain his post and select new ministers, officials said.

"The cabinet resigned today and the formation of a new cabinet will take place as soon as possible," Ali Jarbawi, minister of planning, told Reuters.