Muqata'a announcement Sunday morning: Abbas accepts PM Hamdallah's resignation [then statements + denials…]

A third meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his recently-appointed Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who suddenly “offered” his resignation on Thursday afternoon, was scheduled for Sunday morning at 11:00 — but it didn’t happen.

Instead, shortly after 10:15 or so, Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh told the Agence France Presse [AFP] that “President Abbas has accepted the resignation of Hamdallah after he refused to work with 2 deputies.”  This was published here, and here.

President Abbas had appointed his economic adviser, Dr. Mohammed Mustafa, as one of two deputy prime ministers to serve with Abbas; Ziyad Abu Amr is the second.

Rami Hamdallah was clearly not a go-along, get-along kind of guy — in the circumstances, this is to his credit.

There was no [third] meeting this morning between President Abbas + Prime Minister Hamdallah, according to the Palestinian Government’s new Spokesperson, Dr. Ehab Bseisso — the statement from Presidential Spokesman Abu Rudeineh preempted the meeting.

Reports [in English] on Friday that Hamdallah had withdrawn his “offer” of resignation on Friday were later amended — it seems that  Hamdallah had not retracted his resignation, and it remained on the table.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported, here, that “President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the resignation of newly-appointed prime minister Rami Hamdallah, who has been in office for less than a month, and asked him to stay on as a caretaker government until a new one is formed, presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Sunday”.

Not long afterwards, two Tweets suddenly appeared on an account that had been opened in early June and declared the official Twitter account of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah [see our earlier post]:

Rami Hamdallah @PalestineGov — The President officially accepted my resignation. R.H.

Rami Hamdallah @PalestineGov — The situation in this country forced me to resign. Conflicts, confusion, corruption. Palestine needs a real political reform. R.H.

There is no indication, yet, that Hamdallah has agreed to stay on as “Caretaker” Prime Minister for another two tortuous weeks.  [One report suggested that Abbas must name a new Prime Minister within two weeks.]  But, a colleague who interviewed Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad today in Ramallah said that it might be seven weeks before a new government is in place .  [However, al-Ahmad declined to repeat his remarks in a recorded interview.]

UPDATE: Apparently Hamdallah is staying on.  Ma’an News Agency Tweeted on Monday morning that Hamdallah told their reporter in a statement that the Government “will pay salaries on time, without delay”...

After Then, the Government Media Center Tweeted this:

Gov. Media Center @PalestinianGov Ramallah-Government Media Center: Prime Minister D. Rami Hamdallah wishes to make clear that he does not have a…

The full test of this statement, posted on the Facebook link, says:

Ramallah-Government Media Center: Prime Minister D. Rami Hamdallah wishes to make clear that he does not have a personal Twitter account. He stresses that the Palestinian Government Media Center is the official institution for issuing statements for the Prime Minister and the Palestinian government.  PGMC Note: We urge all media to take care in reporting statements purported to be from the Prime Minister and emphasize the necessity of checking with the PGMC for confirmation of any statements.

This statement was issued shortly after I contacted Dr. Bseisso to ask about Dr. Hamdallah and Dr. Mustafa. Dr. Bseisso promised to call back with answers to some questions, but never did.  [It makes no sense, however, to urge media to take care and to check with the Palestinian Government Media Center for confirmation, if calls are not returned.]

Was it with this Tweet that the Government Media Center took over this @PalestinianGov account?

The statement of denial [of having a “personal” Twitter account, which was not the question] is  in Hamdallah’s name, but issued by the Government Media Center @PalestinianGov … In the absence of any further information, it is not unreasonable to continue to believe that the Hamdallah Tweet could be genuine, but someone doesn’t like it and wants to supress it.  The other possibilities are deliberate sabotage [by someone with access to the this Twitter account], or the Twitter account was hacked.  Neither possibility is mentioned by the statement issued by the Palestinian Government Media Center –+ it sure looks like damage control by someone who did not  if not censorship.

Two Ramallah-based journalists had a laugh about it:

Dalia Hatuqa @DaliaHatuqa – lol @emilie_baujard: Pal Gov Media Center: PM Rami Hamdallah wishes to make clear that he does not have a personal Twitter account

Jerusalem Post correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh Tweeted:

Khaled Abu Toameh @KhaledAbuToameh — @Zeidan_Mohammed saying Hamdallah Twitter fake. Could be

Later, Zeidan Tweeted:

Mohammed N. Zeidan @Zeidan_Mohammed @Marianhouk @KhaledAbuToameh Hamdallah made that clear for radio station he didn’t say that

Mohammed N. Zeidan @Zeidan_Mohammed —  @Marianhouk @KhaledAbuToameh — he [Hamdallah] denied that he said that words about why he resigned on twitter also denied that the account belong to him.

This recalls what happened after the Roger Cohen Opinion article in the New York Times, profiling the previous Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, after which there was a statement issued by his “office” [NOT by the Government Media Center] that not only denied quotes attributed to Fayyad that were critical of Fatah and of the Palestinian Government, but that also stated that Fayyad had given no interview or statement to the press since his resignation. [Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab had also published a profile of Fayyad around the same time as the Roger Cohen…]

Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Tweeted a link to his analysis:

Jonathan Schanzer @JSchanzer — Hamdallah, with his parting shot on Twitter, is challenging Abbas’ governing style, if not his authority. …

A report in Haaretz here says that according to “sources in Abbas’ bureau”. “the president was furious that Hamdallah resigned so suddenly, announcing it publicly before informing the president”

AFP reported <a href =”″>here</a> on Sunday evening that, according to a source:

“Hamdallah, who was named to the post of premier by Abbas on June 2 and sworn in at the helm of a new government four days later, had been incensed by the president’s decision to name the two deputies, sources in his office said. During his talks with Abbas on Friday, Hamdallah had made clear he wanted ‘ clear and defined powers as prime minister and for his deputies, based on the law, so his authority is not encroached on’, an official said”.  AFP added that Hamdallah “insisted yesterday (Saturday) during a meeting with the president on either not having any deputies, or having deputies with restricted powers…This led to a sharpening of the dispute over the powers of the prime minister, which ended up with the president accepting his resignation”.

AFP also reported that:

“Hassan Khreishe, deputy speaker of parliament, said Hamdallah’s resignation highlighted a major problem within the political system. ‘There is a major crisis within the Palestinian political regime and this shows just how big it is’, he told AFP. ‘Hamdallah was brave to demand his rights under the Basic Law and he resigned after he discovered he has no authority, because he has a deputy for political issues and a deputy for economic issues, so what does he have if both of these are taken from him?’  He said the problem would not be solved simply by appointing a new prime minister. ‘It is not important who comes next. Whoever comes after Hamdallah won’t solve the crisis. There is no institution which oversees what the presidency does’, he said, saying the regime would be run ‘by Abbas alone’.”

Meanwhile, what will happen to Dr. Mohammed Mustafa, who reportedly resigned from Palestine Investment Fund [PIFshortly before PM Fayyad resigned, and who then was appointed as one of two deputies to Hamdallah? Is he still head of the Palestine Investment Fund [PIF], as recent reports suggest? Did he un-resign? Or were the reports of his resignation false?

What is holding Abbas back from appointing Mustafa as PM?

One information source told me that Mustafa had not resigned from his post as head of the PIF, and that reports to that effect seem to have been untrue. According to this source, Mustafa “insisted on keeping” his job as PIF head. Another said Mustafa had indeed resigned, but he’s staying on as head of the Palestine Investment Fund [“Caretaker”] until a successor is found … However, this was supposed be confirmed by the PIF’s official PR person [who left at 2 pm, and who didn’t answer her Wataniya mobilie phone].

The PIF’s 2012 Annual Report has just been published, and it says that:

In 2012, the Palestine Investment Fund [PIF] achieved “a profit before taxes of US $43.3 million”. Dr. Mustafa reported, here. “On the dividends side, PIF transferred US$ 30 million as an advance payment on 2012 profit bringing total dividend distribution to US $683 million. In addition, PIF provided US $40 million in assets as collateral for a US $100 million loan, from a local bank to the Ministry of Finance. On the other hand, PIF assets dropped due to the aforementioned transfer of dividends and the settling of the Ministry of Finance’s current account against tax liabilities and part of the dividends, Over the past five years, PIF’s projects have created more than 10,000 job opportunities, and I promise to continue our contribution to job creation in the future”.
Dr. Mohammad Mustafa
Chairman & CEO

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