RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — The outgoing Palestinian prime minister is urging for new elections and says it's the only way to heal a bitter rift between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In a farewell speech broadcast on the local radio on Wednesday, Salam Fayyad says elections would reunite the Palestinians.

The Hamas militant group controls the Gaza Strip, while the Western-backed Palestinian Authority governs autonomous areas in the West Bank.

The rift is a major obstacle to Palestinian dreams of establishing an independent state in the two areas.

The territories have been politically divided since Hamas seized Gaza in 2007.

Fayyad, an internationally respected economist, resigned last week after bitter conflicts with President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement, which dominate the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas has not yet appointed a new prime minister.

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