Palestinian Authority (PA) President Muhammad Abbas’s aturday evening decision to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad came as a result of political jockeying and amid intense international diplomacy.
Fayyad met this evening with Abbas in a session that lasted just twenty minutes, after which news leaked of the resignation.
On Thursday Reuters reported that Fayyed had submitted his resignation, but the prevailing assessment was that because of pressure from the United States, Abbas would refuse to accept it.
The latest dispute between the two Palestinian leaders erupted a few weeks ago after Fayyad accepted the resignation of the PA’s Finance Minister, Nabil Kasis, who was seen as close to Abbas, without getting prior approval from the Chairman.
The Fatah leadership and the terrorist group Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since a bloody 2007 takeover of the enclave, have long urged Abbas to dismiss Fayyad. The demand had been heard often from various parts of the Fatah political echelon in recent years as Fayaad has tried to crack down on rampant corruption. Reports that such a move was imminent have appeared consistently over the last few weeks.
In the last 24 hours, however it was rumored that Secretary of State John Kerry called Abbas and urging him not to dismiss Fayyad. Sources speaking to TheTower.org, who have an interest in suggesting US pressure on Abbas will backfire and resent what they see as US interference in internal Palestinian Affairs, suggest the call may have in fact moved Abbas to dismiss Fayyad out of a desire not to appear overly responsive to American pressure. Given that critically needed U.S. financial aid has long been directly tied to Faayad’s respected fiscal oversight, that explanation seems unlikely, and extremely short sighted according to sources in Washington D.C.
At this writing it is unclear who will succeed Fayyad, who has held the prime ministership for the past eight years. Palestinian media raised the names of Dr. Rami Hamdallah, President of An-Najah National University, and Dr. Mohammad Mustafa, chairman of the Palestinian National Investment Fund.
Fayyad was appointed Prime Minister most recently in the summer of 2007, after the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. He is considered to enjoy the close support of the White House, and has broad connections on the Israeli side. Yet precisely because of his successful economic and security reforms in the West Bank, he earned the animosity of Fatah leaders, who came to see him as a political rival.
[Photo: World Economic Forum]