Rami Hamdallah "offers" his resignation on Thursday + confirms by Tweet [can Abbas get him to stay?]

The new Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who was sworn into office 2.5 weeks ago, suddenly “offered” his resignation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on 20  June — and then drove off in “a private car” [without security?] to his hometown of Anabta.

Even in a political culture which such an intricate resignation culture as the Palestinian Authority’s [renamed since January this year on the orders of Abbas as the Palestinian Government], this was a surprise shock.

It is a tactic that must not be over-used: serial resignations appear weak and temperamental, and will be ridiculed.

There are only two ways Hamdallah’s resignation can be respected, and the basic bottom line must be (1) that he really means it.

He could also get some points, in some calculations, if (2) he manages to get enormous concessions, and stays in office, and then amasses enough power to keep on getting what he wants, all the time.

Hamdallah — who said that he would only serve three months at the most, basically until the end of the academic summer vacation, and until a new unity goverment in place — will not get a second chance at this.

Hamdallah announced his decision in a terse Tweet on Thursday afternoon.  It was only his second Tweet, on his official Twitter account:

Rami Hamdallah @PalestineGov
I offered my resignation to the President of PA. Official note will be released soon. R.H.

Rami Hamdallah @PalestineGov 4 Jun
Welcome! This is my official Twitter account. Rami Hamdallah, Prime Minister of Palestine.

Does posting one’s resignation on Twitter make it definitive?  Apparently not.

Mahmoud Abbas, a cagey politician who is used to getting his way and who is prepared to wait to have his revenge cold, was certainly surprised and most probably also embarrassed — and sent Tayyib Abdul Rahim, an adviser, and Majed Faraj, head of the Palestinian intelligence services in the West Bank, right up to Anabta after Hamdallah, apparently to try to persuade him to come back to the Muqata’a for a chat [or to agree to change his mind].  They stayed for three hours, and nobody had anything to say afterwards [though the media was informed that had Hamdallah agreed to come back to Ramallah on Friday evening — rather than immediately — to meet with Abbas].

News detail: I was in Samer Restaurant just before noon, getting a grilled chicken to take home, when I saw a group order of sandwiches and bottles of soft drinks [mostly Coca Cola, regular + zero, as well as Fanta orange soda] being assembled to take to the Prime Minister’s office.  It looked like the sign of a convivial work session before the Palestinian weekend [Friday + Saturday], not of an imminent blow-up and resignation…

The first news reports spoke of a dispute over responsibilities and powers.

Then, attention began to focus on the peculiar imposition, by Abbas, of two deputy Prime Ministers to serve with Abbas — one a former Foreign Minister, from Gaza, who has a good and serious reputation, and the other one Dr. Mohammad Mustafa, who had recently resigned as head of the Palestine Investment Fund just before the resignation of former PM Salam Fayyad amid speculation that he was preparing to replace Fayyad.  Mustafa, who apparently remains Abbas’ economic adviser, was privy to the business secrets of the Palestinian wealthy elite, and is a man who is used to not answering sceptical questions.  Mustafa takes his privilege quite seriously.

AFP reported here that  “Mustafa, who heads the Palestine Investment Fund and was handed the role of economic adviser, was initially tipped as a possible successor to Fayyad.  And when the new government was sworn in, it was he who held the first news conference following its initial cabinet meeting on June 11, not Hamdallah, in a move which raised a few eyebrows”.

It had also been reported that Mustafa would be the spokesman of the new government. But, after the second cabinet meeting under Hamdallah on June 18, it was officially announced that Dr. Ehab Bessaiso would be the spokesperson for the government, as well as Director of the Palestinian Government Media Center [following in the footsteps of Ghassan Khateeb, a former Minister of Labor as well as Minister of Planning, who resigned within the past year and was replaced by Nour Odeh, a former correspondent of Al-Jazeera TV].

Dalia Hatuqa , a journalist who lives in Ramallah, Tweeted after the resignation “offer”:

Dalia Hatuqa @DaliaHatuqa
I don’t get why people are surprised. The man was assigned not one but two deputies for a reason: to do his job for him => power struggle

Dalia Hatuqa @DaliaHatuqa
Worth noting that Pal Basic Law doesnt mention 2 deputies. There was 1 instance (at least) where a DPM was assigned in 2007: Azzam Al Ahmad

Dalia Hatuqa @DaliaHatuqa
Also worth noting that the Palestinian Basic Law doesn’t mention a deputy prime minister position at all #previoustweet **

Dalia Hatuqa @DaliaHatuqa
2-3 weeks/months from now when Hamdallah resigns again, the news will not be met with today’s media frenzy

Dalia Hatuqa @DaliaHatuqa
We’ve seen this scenario too many times w predecessor to believe Abbas will accept Hamdallah’s resignation. Kiss-n-makeup session will ensue

** It’s also worth nothing that the Palestinan Basic Law hasn’t been adopted, as it wasn’t approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council, which was unable to meet due to a lack of quorum and whose mandate has now expired…

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