Fayyad is still in office [after his resignation] as talk begins to bubble about elections

Salam Fayyad is still in office, two days after his resignation as Palestinian Prime Minister was accepted by President Mahmoud Abbas. And Fayyad may remain in office for a while, until after new elections are actually held.

[For that matter, the Governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fisher, who is on friendly terms with Fayyad, is also still in office until the end of June…]

The National reported, in a bit of a stretch, that after Salam Fayyad’s resignation, “some fear a return of a PA that is even more under the influence of Mr Abbas’s Fatah faction and lacking the checks and balances imposed by Mr Fayyad, a political independent”. here.

Checks + balances?

That is almost as much of a fantasy as the claim that Fayyad “built institutions” — presumably, of government.

Fayyad may take some credit for the imposition of law and order in West Bank cities — during his watch, if not as a direct result of his own efforts — and also for putting some order into processes in government ministries [such as paying salaries by direct deposit into bank accounts, which caused problems this past winter when salaries could only be partially paid, yet banks were able to take 100% of the loan payments they were due before depositing the salary].

The experienced and knowlegable Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab [he likes Fayyad, and Fayyad is, in fact, likeable] wrote in Al-Monitor here, that Fayyad “introduced legal reform, proper systems of governance and the rule of law”. This is simply over the top. To put it simply, there is no law, or rule of law, in the West Bank.

Kuttab also wrote, “Fayyad did everything that was needed to establish the foundation of a Palestinian state”… More hyperbole. USAID, who came and went, depending on whether the U.S. was pleased or not with the Palestinians, did more infrastructure work than Fayyad’s government [but Fayyad did get a lot of the credit…] And let us not forget UNRWA, which is running a number of refugee camps as well as schools and clinics. [Today, as school was about to get out in Jalazone refugee camp just across from the western edge of Beit El, there were student street-crossing monitors with STOP signs on the ends of wooden sticks looking as alert and efficient as those I’d seen another day this week in Pisgat Zeev on the northern side of Jerusalem. Nothing like that seems to exist, however, in government or private schools in the West Bank.]

Kuttab also wrote, in his Al-Monitor article, that:
“Perhaps the largest challenge facing Fayyad was the union of local public service employees. As long as they were paid, Fayyad was able to placate them, but once salaries were late, they found in Fayyad a perfect scapegoat. The union headed by a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council became the Fatah spearhead to bringing down Fayyad and his professional style. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is the leader of Fatah, tried to shield Fayyad and defended him many times, but was unable to continuously go against his own grassroots leaders even though he probably knew that they were not always correct.

Fayyad, however, was no saint. He was smart, but also shrewd. He maneuvered himself rather well and tried a few too many times to avoid making the political connection or paying the political price. He counted too much on Abbas to defend him and more than once failed in the eyes of the many Western countries that rooted for him, especially the Americans.

The arrogance coupled with the naivete of the Americans perhaps was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Obama’s public support for Fayyad was a two-edged sword and no doubt gave him a few extra weeks, but Kerry’s public statement in defense of Fayyad was perhaps the kiss of death”…

There has been some speculation about Fayyad’s successor. [I would like to propose Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee who contested 2006 parliamentary elections as a member of the same very small political party as Fayyad…]

But, there are more significant and insistent calls for elections. AFP reported today that Fatah’s Azzam al-Ahmad told Voice of Palestine radio that “The president must hold consultations with Palestinian movements to form a national unity government and set a date for elections.” This is reported here.

The AFP report also noted that “Hamas never recognised his [Fayyad’s] authority, continuing instead to recognise its own premier, Ismail Haniya…Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo in 2011, pledging to set up an interim consensus government of independents that would pave the way for legislative and presidential elections within 12 months. But implementation of the deal stalled over the make-up of the interim government, and a February 2012 deal signed by Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Doha intended to overcome outstanding differences was opposed by Hamas members in Gaza”.

As AFP also reported that “The Palestinian elections commission said…it was ‘ready to carry out elections if the order is issued by the presidency’, after releasing the results of what it called a successful drive to register more voters in the West Bank and Gaza”.

Actually, the Palestinian Central Election Commission made the announcement of its preparedness to go to elections, earlier in the week. It then presented the results of the registration drive to President Abbas himself, on Friday, in the Muqata’a, as the Commission reported on its website, here. The CEC wrote on its website that it informed Abbas “that it’s technically ready for any elections once called”. The CEC also wrote that “Mr. Abbas also spoke on elections indicating that the issue is under study within the given circumstances”.

A day later, Abbas accepted Fayyad’s resignation, but asked him to stay on until his replacement is in place…

AFP said that “The timing of the announcement — followed a day later by Fayyad’s resignation — was ‘favourable to discussions on forming a national unity government’, said Ahmed, who is in charge of reconciliation with Hamas. ‘Under the law, the president has two weeks to choose a person tasked with forming a new government’ which itself must take place within five weeks, he said”.

Today, the Central Election Commission reported, here, that “CEC Chairman, Dr. Hanna Nasir met with representatives of political parties at CEC’s headquarters in Ramallah where they were handed over a copy of the updated voter registry of 2013. Dr. Nasir briefed attendants on the latest developments related to the completion of the registry update process and confirmed CEC’s readiness for any elections once called”.

The remainder of local elections is now scheduled to take place on 1 June, the CEC reported. But presidential elections have not been held since January 2005, and parliamentary elections [for the Palestine Legislative Council], have not been held since January 2006.

President Mahmoud Abbas, whose term in office was supposed to be four years, said he will not run again. But, he has postponed elections he decreed several years ago, and said he will remain in office until new elections are held. Meanwhile the Palestine Legislative Council has been dormant since 2006, mainly because Israeli arrests of elected Hamas deputies made it impossible to convene a quorum of members for meetings. Abbas has been ruling by decree since 2007. One of the first things the Palestine Legislative Council could do, if it ever meets, would be to immediately repeal some or all of the decrees issued by Abbas.

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