Fayyad offers resignation
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad offered his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas
on Wednesday following a rift between the two men over government policy, two sources told Reuters.
Sources close to Fayyad confirmed the report.
Abbas was due to return to the West Bank from Jordan on Thursday, and it was not immediately clear whether he would accept the resignation of the US-educated economist.
…Initially successful in revitalizing a sluggish Palestinian economy, Fayyad ran into trouble last year when Israel and the United States withheld vital funds to punish the Palestinians for seeking de facto statehood at the United Nations.
They said the unilateral move ran counter to previous accords and their financial penalties meant Palestinian public sector salaries went unpaid, stoking street protests.
Abbas’s Fatah party accused Fayyad of failing to foresee the turmoil and the party’s council issued an unprecedented rebuke last week, saying: “The policies of the current government are improvised and confused in many financial and economic issues.”
Earlier this week I quoted Abbas as telling the Fatah revolutionary council that he was livid at Fayyad and that something would happen within three days.
Speaking earlier on Wednesday about the rumors of a division between Fayyad and Abbas, a senior diplomat in Jerusalem said Western aid donors would be very upset to see the respected prime minister leave his post.
“Fayyad’s departure would have a serious impact on relations with the international community,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It is hard to overstate how important Fayyad has been.”
The diplomat added that Fayyad’s institution-building drive in the West Bank had been “the single best thing” that had happened in the Palestinian territories in recent years, adding that the premier was also highly trusted by Israeli leaders.
Fayyad’s close ties with the West have irritated senior Fatah officials, who have accused him of trying to build an unassailable powerbase, despite the fact that he had no significant political support amongst ordinary Palestinians.
This is well known. For years Fayyad – who has no constituency of his own and was never elected – has been praised endlessly by the West for his relative transparency and financial expertise, getting rid of much of the cronyism and corruption from the Arafat days.
Fatah, of course, hated him from the start because he was not a member of Fatah.
Also, unlike every other Palestinian Arab political leader, Fayyad has no ties to terrorism – something that also ensures his unpopularity.
Very few Western pundits ever noted the shakiness of Fayyad’s term in office, and the folly of relying on such a man as a symbol of how the PA is getting its act together. On the contrary, people like Thomas Friedman assumed that Fayyad was a symbol of how great the PA was, rather an an anomaly that showed how utterly corrupt the rest of the PA is by contrast.
A great deal of the international legitimacy of the PA derives from a man who was chosen to be prime minister undemocratically, bypassing even the most basic of Palestinian Arab constitutional measures, by a president who has remained in office far beyond his term. Which is pretty much what you need to know about the legitimacy of the “State of Palestine.”