RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad resigned on Saturday, leaving the Palestinians without one of their most moderate and well-respected voices just as the U.S. is launching a new push for Mideast peace.
A statement from the official Palestinian news agency Wafa said President Mahmoud Abbas met with Fayyad late in the day and accepted his resignation, thanking him for his service. According to the statement, Abbas asked Fayyad to continue to serve in his post until Abbas forms a new government.
Abbas was expected to name a new prime minister within days, according to Palestinian officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Abbas and Fayyad had been locked in an increasingly bitter dispute over the extent of the prime minister's authority. Fayyad offered his resignation on Thursday, but Abbas did not respond to Fayyad's offer until Saturday.
His departure could spell trouble for Abbas. Fayyad, a Western-trained economist, is well respected in international circles, and he is expected to play a key role in U.S. efforts to revive peace talks.
As part of that effort, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said he plans to announce a series of measures to boost the West Bank economy in the coming days. Fayyad, a former official at the International Monetary Fund with expertise in development, would be key to overseeing such projects.
Fayyad has served since mid-2007 as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, the self-rule government that administers roughly 40 percent of the Israeli-controlled West Bank. The 61-year-old political independent has focused his efforts on developing the foundations of an independent Palestinian state.
A squeaky-clean public image and willingness to take on entrenched interests has often landed him in trouble with Abbas' long-ruling Fatah movement.
The relationship between Fayyad and Abbas has been tense for some time, and the prime minister told Abbas already late last year that he wanted to quit.
Abbas told Fayyad repeatedly to wait. But the conflict between the two escalated last month over the resignation of Fayyad's finance minister, Nabil Kassis. Fayyad accepted the resignation, but Abbas then overruled the prime minister, effectively challenging his right to hire and fire Cabinet ministers.
Fayyad told confidants in recent days that he was determined to leave. The prime minister also complained about what he said was an attempt by leading Fatah members to undermine him.
Fayyad has good ties with the U.S. and is credited with cracking down on public corruption, securing foreign aid and preparing the groundwork and infrastructure for a future Palestinian state.
The White House said it appreciates the efforts of Fayyad and Abbas in working with the U.S. and other nations to support the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
"Prime Minister Fayyad has been a strong partner to the international community and a leader in promoting economic growth, state-building, and security for the Palestinian people," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Saturday. "We look to all Palestinian leaders to support these efforts."
Backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid, Fayyad has built roads and schools and promoted transparency in the government's finances. With the Palestinian Authority stuck in a financial crisis, Fayyad has come under public criticism for the cash-strapped government's failure to pay the salaries of teachers and civil servants on time.
Fayyad has been in office since being appointed in June 2007 by Abbas, following the takeover of Gaza by the rival Islamic militant Hamas. Fayyad's authority is largely limited to the West Bank, while Hamas continues to control Gaza.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum criticized rival Fayyad in a statement following his resignation, saying he and his government "worked to protect the Zionist occupation and U.S. interests."
Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.
Also on HuffPost:
China: In Favor
China's foreign minister reaffirmed support for Palestinian aspirations at the U.N. during a meeting last Friday with a Palestinian envoy. <em>Caption: Bassam al-Salhi (L), the general secretary of the Palestinian People's Party, shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (R) during their meeting at the Foreign Ministry building in Beijing on November 23, 2012. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
France: In Favor
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius made the announcement before parliament. "In any case, it's only through negotiations – that we ask for without conditions and immediately between the two sides – that we will be able to reach the realization of a Palestinian state," Fabius said Tuesday. <em>Caption: French president Francois Hollande (L) welcomes Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas for a meeting at the Elysee presidential Palace in Paris on July 6, 2012. (BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Austria: In Favor
Martin Weiss, Austria's foreign ministry spokesman, said the country decided to vote for the resolution after it became clear there would be no common EU position. <em>Caption: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (L) shakes hands with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on November 28, 2011 in Vienna. (DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
India: In Favor
<em>Caption: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (R) shakes hands with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (L) after a joint press statement in New Delhi on September 11, 2012. (RAVEENDRAN/AFP/GettyImages)</em>
Russia: Probably In Favor
Russia supported Palestinian membership in the U.N. cultural agency, UNESCO. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the country "believes that the Palestinians have the right for such a move" but it added "we hope that the Palestinian leadership has well calculated possible consequences of such action." <em>In this handout image supplied by the Palestinian Press Office (PPO) Mahmoud Abbas (R), the President of Palestinian authority and Vladimir Putin, the President of Russian Federation, speak at the Presidential Palace, on June 26, 2012 in Bethlehem, West Bank. (PPO via Getty Images)</em>
Norway: In Favor
<em>Caption: RAMALLAH, WEST BANK - JANUARY 12: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere during a meeting on January 12, 2012 in Ramallah, West Bank. (Mohamad Torokman - Pool/Getty Images)</em>
Denmark: In Favor
<em>Caption: In this handout image supplied by the Palestinian President's Office (PPO), Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt on September 26, 2012 in New York City. (Thaer Ghanaim-PPO/Getty Images)</em>
Switzerland: In Favor
The Swiss government called a change in status "both constructive and pragmatic." <em>Caption: Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (R) speaks with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas during an official visit to Switzerland on November 15, 2012 in Bern. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Spain: In Favor
<em>Caption: Madrid, SPAIN: Leader of opposition Popular Party (Partido Popular) Mariano Rajoy (R) shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas during his overnight trip to Madrid, 27 January 2007. (PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
United States: Opposed
<em>Caption: In this handout provided by U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) on November 21, 2012 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv via Getty Images)</em>
Canada is a staunch ally of Israel. Rick Roth, a spokesman for Canada's foreign minister, said any two-state solution must be negotiated and mutually agreed upon by both states. Roth said any unilateral action is ultimately unhelpful. <em>Caption: In this handout photo from the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) meets with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper March 2, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images)</em>
Germany: Probably Opposed
It's "very certain that Germany will not vote for such a resolution," said Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert. Officials aren't saying whether that will translate into a no vote or an abstention. <em>Caption: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in front of the Chancellery in Berlin April 7, 2011. (FABRIZIO BENSCH/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Netherlands: Probably Opposed
"Lasting peace in the region can only be reached if Israel and the Palestinians return to the negotiating table to reach a final agreement over a two-state solution," according to a letter the foreign minister sent to parliament this week <em>Caption: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) listens to Dutch Queen Beatrix during a meeting at Huis ten Bosch Royal Palace in The Hague, The Netherlands, on January 19, 2012. (ROBIN UTRECHT/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Britain: Possibly Abstain
The foreign secretary said Britain could support the measure only if there were a clear commitment by the Palestinians to return immediately and unconditionally to negotiations with Israel. "While there is no question of the United Kingdom voting against the resolution, in order to vote for it we would need certain assurances or amendments," said William Hague. <em>Caption: Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague arrives at a Range Rover dealership in Berlin October 23, 2012 to unveil a new Range Rover model. (JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
According to Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Her government is divided on the issue, but Gillard told Parliament "bipartisan policy across the major parties in this parliament to support Israel, to support peace in the Middle East, to support two states in the Middle East." <em>Caption: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard attends the naming of Queen Elizabeth Terrace at Parkes Place on November 10, 2012 in Canberra, Australia. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)</em>