Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Saturday he intended to resign by the end of March in a move that could help unity talks between the rival Fatah and Hamas factions. But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader who appointed Fayyad after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, triggering a schism amongst the Palestinians, said he had asked the prime minister to stay on until results emerged from the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks. "Brother Salam Fayyad has submitted his resignation to us in order to support and strengthen the Palestinian dialogue on forming a government," Abbas told reporters. Hamas has long criticized Fayyad, accusing him of doing the bidding of the United States and other Western powers which finance his government in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The executive committee of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization, run by Abbas, said in a statement that Fayyad's resignation would "pave the way to forming a new Palestinian government emanating from national dialogue." "This move is meant to encourage the dialogue," an aide to Abbas said. "If we do not reach an agreement, the president can ask Fayyad to continue as prime minister." Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said he believed Fayyad's move was motivated by "internal and personal differences" with Abbas and not part of an effort to promote unity. In Washington a White House spokesman said it expected to see continued progress in Arab-Israeli peace despite Fayyad's resignation. "This government made great strides in providing the transparency, accountability and security that will be essential to achieving a two-state solution," said White House National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer. "We expect any future Palestinian government to continue this progress, in line with the Quartet principles and consistent with President Abbas' vision," Hammer said, referring to the quartet of Middle East mediators: the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.