Hamdallah still in office: Facebook page[s] + Twitter account[s]

Somebody here, I think, thinks Twitter and Facebook don’t matter…

This is more than just a symptom — it is a syndrome. It’s because communication doesn’t really matter, here.

Communication is expected to follow formalistic rules. A political statement uses certain prescribed terms and is delivered in loud and rising tones. An elegant and polite person would never take such a strong stand as Rami Hamdallah did when he resigned last week [it’s considered “too divisive” — and this, in a place where division has wreaked havoc since January 2006 parliamentary elections brought a surprise win for the Hamas-backed Change and Reform Party, which stood for the first time].

At least, Hamdallah is behaving well enough to say, as requested, until something new is put together…

Daoud Kuttab wrote today [though with a somewhat vague timeline] that “The apparent conflict of authority between the president and the prime minister in the Palestinian areas is certainly not new: But, Kuttab wrote, The bias toward the presidency escalated after Haniyeh and his Hamas supporters rejected the authority of Abbas, forcing [!] the Palestinian
president to dismiss Haniyeh and appoint Salam Fayyad in 2007. The defacto suspension of the Palestinian Legislative Council meant that the appointed government did not gain a vote of confidence from the Palestinian representatives. When Fayyad attempted [recently] to question the power of the Palestinian presidency — with the refusal to allow back the resigned Minister of Finance Nabeel Kassis — he found himself on the losing end of a power struggle, and eventually had to hand in his resignation in April 2013. Hamdallah appears to have noticed this issue much earlier and seemed to have rinsisted on retaining all the legal and administrative powers that came with the office … Without a parliament to vote confidence into a government, the relations between the presidency and the prime minister’s office can get complicated. Technically, every prime minister takes on a legal position after being sworn into office in front of the president.
These consecutive governments in Palestine are known to be governments of Abbas, and he holds ultimate power to keep or dismiss the prime minister. However, the Palestinian Basic Law, which functions as a temporary constitution, gives the prime minister a lot of power, including being the reference point of all his ministers”. This is posted here.

Kuttab doesn’t stress enough, however, the fact that the Palestinian Basic Law has not yet been approved precisely because the Palestinian Legislative Council is in a state of “de facto suspension”…

In his piece, Kuttab does report that Hamdallah, after his appointment, publicly stated that “he hoped to stay prime minister until Aug. 14. On this date, an agreed-to prime minister — as part of the reconciliation process — would be found. [So] Hamdallah has not officially resigned from his academic post [as head of an-Najah University], but rather has taken a leave of absence”…

Kuttab also notes that “The fact that Hamdallah had clearly accepted a temporary position seems to have led some to believe that the real prime minister is one of the deputies”…

Continue reading “Hamdallah still in office: Facebook page[s] + Twitter account[s]”

Salam Fayyad is replaced as “Caretaker” Palestinian Prime Minister by Nablus Academic Dr. Rami Hamdallah

Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority’s Finance Minister since 2002, who then served as Prime Minister since late June 2007 when Mahmoud Abbas named him to replace Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh after the Hamas rout of Palestinian Preventive Security in Gaza — and who insisted on resigning on April 13 after John Kerry’s too-overt praise during an Abbas-Fayyad dispute — is finally being replaced by Nablus Academic Dr. Rami Hamdallah.

Hamdallah, who reportedly has a PhD in linguistics, was born in Anabta village near Tulkarem and has been the head of an-Najah University in Nablus for almost 15 years.

Ma’an News Agency reported here that Hamdallah told AFP: “President Abbas has asked me to form a new government and I have accepted…The government will be formed in the coming days…Most ministers of the outgoing government will stay and I will bring in a new finance minister”.

Ouch.  [Salam Fayyad has been PA Finance Minister virtually non-stop since 2002 — Nabil Kassis was the only other person who served as Finance Minister in this time, and it was Fayyad’s fight with Kassis, then Fayyad’s too-quick acceptance of Kassis’ resignation, that brought about the events that led to Fayyad’s resignation.]

Continue reading “Salam Fayyad is replaced as “Caretaker” Palestinian Prime Minister by Nablus Academic Dr. Rami Hamdallah”

Salam Fayyad is still Caretaker Prime Minister — and he says he supports Freedom of the Press

Almost one month to the day after his resignation, Salam Fayyad remains the Palestinian Prime Minister — now in a “Caretaker” capacity at the request of President Mahmoud Abbas, until he finds a replacement… or, until things change [“and he can reappoint Fayyad”, as one commentor recently noted].

Neither Salam Fayyad nor “Fayyad’s office” have recanted their statement denying that he has given any press interviews or statements since his resignation on 13 April.  They just think that they can sweep everything under the carpet, and their misleading statement will all fade away and be forgotten — which is not the behavior of a responsible adult. [See our previous posts.]

Here’s how Haaretz interpreted the facts [in a Tweet on May 5 — in other words, Fayyad did, of course, speak with Roger Cohen of the New York Times]:
@haaretzcom – In interview with NYTimes, #Palestinian PM Fayyad foresees fall of Fatah, but denies criticizing it = http://htz.li/10yXiOn

This Haaretz report said that, according to the statement given to Ma’an News Agency by “Fayyad’s office”, “Fayyad’s office asked Cohen not to publish the story as an interview with the prime minister”…

Meanwhile, Ma’an News Agency reported today here, Fayyad has made a public appearance and public statement in support of Freedom of the Press.

The Ma’an report quotes Fayyad as saying:
“When it comes to freedom of the press, there is nothing called excessive freedom…What we aim to do is to make the freedom of speech a part of our daily life, unrestrained by laws”.

According to Ma’an, Fayyad also remarked that the protection of the freedom of expression is one of the most important priorities of the Palestinian Authority’s work and that Freedom of the press must be an essential component of the Palestinian state…

And, will Fayyad retract the statement issued by his "office"?

Will Salam Fayyad correct the wrong-headed efforts of his “office” to save him from Fatah’s wrath in Ramallah by making the patently false denial that he’s given any statements or interviews to the media since his resignation on 13 April?

Will he stand up and do the right thing, here?

Will he admit that he did give an interview to New York Times columnist Roger Cohen? [And, for that matter, also to Daoud Kuttab…}

Salam Fayyad participates in Greek Orthodox + Eastern Easter celebrations in Ramallah - 5 May 2013
Salam Fayyad participated with Church officials in Greek Orthodox + Eastern Easter celebrations in Ramallah - 5 May 2013

Salam Fayyad is not perfect, but he is better than this — no matter what pressure he’s under, he’s not a person I would have thought would attack a journalist, or deny that he did what he did, or said what he said.

Nobody I’ve spoken to believes the denials, anyway…

The Palestinian Authority people in Ramallah can’t take criticism, though they should try to learn …

In what was billed as his last weekly radio address, Fayyad said “I feel a deep sense of gratitude to all those who supported us and stood by us. I am also deeply grateful for each opinion or position that criticized the path of our work and tried to correct it for the benefit of our people and their national cause”.

That is good.

Then, he went on to say: “As for those who maintained preconceived positions throughout our journey or made it their business to launch attacks and spread prejudices, I tell them: may God forgive you”…

Maybe Fayyad, like others here, have a hard time telling the difference, and see all criticism as attacks and spreading of prejudices.

Fayyad should rise up and retract the statement issued by his “office”…

Meanwhile, Roger Cohen wrote in a Tweet today [probably overly defensive, as he was addressing someone known to be a critic of Fayyad] that “#Fayyad is serious, tough and consequential”…

If so, Fayyad should retract the nonsense statement issued by his “office”.

"Fayyad's Office" denies he gave any interviews or statements since his "resignation"

This story just does not get better.

Last night, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, Salam Fayyad’s “office” issued a statement saying that  “The statements in the [New York Times OpEd piece by Roger Cohen] are…certainly not the words of Fayyad…”

The statement from “Fayyad’s office”, according to WAFA, said that Fayyad “did not make any statements or conduct interviews for the NYTimes or any other newspaper or agency since his resignation”…

We have reported on some of those interviews in earlier posts here and here.

WAFA added, citing the statement from “Fayyad’s office” that: “The statements in the article are just journalist Roger Cohen’s personal impressions”.

The Times of Israel reported here that “In an email correspondence with The Times of Israel, Cohen reacted to Fayyad’s office’s claim by saying he interviewed Fayyad and declined further comment”.

UPDATE: Roger Cohen said just a bit more on Monday, via Twitter: Roger Cohen @NYTimesCohen ” #Fayyad office denies interview happened at all. Would make denial quotes redundant. It happened.  He spoke out”.

In another Tweet, Cohen wrote: “He said what he said”

Fayyad’s admission of failure [to Cohen] is certainly not the first time he’s said that.

The eloquence of his reported critique of the leadership was distinctive. According to Cohen, Fayyad said: “It is incredible that the fate of the Palestinian people has been in the hands of leaders so entirely casual, so guided by spur-of-the-moment decisions, without seriousness. We don’t strategize, we cut deals in a tactical way and we hold ourselves hostage to our own rhetoric”. If this was concocted, as the statement reported by WAFA say, perhaps Fayyad should consider engaging someone like Roger Cohen as a regular speechwriter.

What was shocking in the NYTimes article by Roger Cohen was Fayyad’s open attack on Fatah, the largest Palestinian political movement which also controls the Palestine Liberation Organization [recognized at the UN for decades as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.

Fatah has been critical of Fayyad for years, and called a number of times for Fayyad to go or be replaced — with the notable exception of a moment last year when reconciliation talks with Hamas had progressed to the point where there was talk of the formation of a pre-election government composed of non-affiliated technocrats, and Hamas insisted Fayyad must go.  Then, and only then, did Fatah issue a statement of support for Fayyad, which stressed his importance in bringing in donor money and political support…

It is interesting that the surprising denial, attributed to a statement from “Fayyad’s office”, was put out by WAFA [the official Palestinian news agency, which is not controlled by Fayyad] rather than by the Fayyad-appointed Government Media Center, which seems to have said nothing …

Fayyad clearly has met + given interviews, since his “resignation”, to Daoud Kuttab [who Tweeted a photo, which we posted earlier] + to Roger Cohen [on Twitter @NYTimesCohen].

It is not clear if Fayyad met with his former Government spokesman Ghassan Khatib, who also wrote about Fayyad but used no direct quotes = here. Ghassan Khatib wrote essentially the same things as Roger Cohen about Fayyad [+ Abbas] — savvily, but minus the direct quotes, or any words blaming of Fatah.

Meanwhile, Daoud Kuttab has not responded yet to a query I sent him on Twitter this evening:
@Marianhouk —> @daoudkuttab – “any comment on the WAFA story saying “Fayyad’s office” denied he’d given any statements or interviews since resigning?”

If we’re to believe WAFA or the statement from “Fayyad’s office”, Fayyad’s sessions w/ Daoud Kuttab + were on deep background.   The full WAFA [English version] report is posted here:

RAMALLAH, May 4, 2013 (WAFA) – Outgoing Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s office Saturday denied statements slamming the Palestinian leadership which were attributed to Fayyad in an interview with the New York Times. Fayyad’s office said in a statement, ‘The statements in the article are just journalist Roger Cohen’s personal impressions, and certainly not the words of Fayyad, who did not make any statements or conduct interviews for the New York Times or any other newspaper or agency since his resignation’. The New York Times published on May 3 an article titled ‘Fayyad Steps Down, Not Out’ by Cohen, in which Fayyad allegedly described the Palestinian leadership as ‘failed’. Cohen quoted Fayyad saying ‘It is incredible that the fate of the Palestinian people has been in the hands of leaders so entirely casual, so guided by spur-of-the-moment decisions, without seriousness. We don’t strategize, we cut deals in a tactical way and we hold ourselves hostage to our own rhetoric’.  Cohen’s article caused an uproar among Palestinians while Fayyad’s office said that this article must not be published as an interview with Fayyad”.

WAFA reported even more of the statement “Fayyad’s office” in a post on its Arabic pages, here, as the Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh reported here,  WAFA’s Arabic-language report used much harder language — reporting that “Fayyad’s office” had called the NYTimes report a “forgery”:

“The attack on the PA leadership and Fatah clearly embarrassed Fayyad, who said [n.b. — at least “Fayyad’s office” did] in a statement that the Time‘s Roger Cohen had published an op-ed, and not an interview

Fayyad also accused the paper of ‘forgery that carries political dimensions with the goal of causing damage and fomenting strife in order to serve positions that are hostile to the Palestinians and their national project at this sensitive and critical phase’.”

This Arabic-language report on WAFA usAccording to Toameh [via Twitter] a report on the statement made by “Fayyad’s office” also appeared in Ma’an News Agency [Arabic] and on Palpress here.

UPDATE [w/correction]: Ma’an News Agency has published, in English, a story about the “Fayyad office” statement of denial/retraction, here. The Ma’an story noted the statement denying the remarks Fayyad reportedly made to the NYTimes, but then said that “Fayyad resigned on April 13 and is acting as caretaker prime minister, but will leave office completely in three to four weeks, he told the New York Times”.

The pro-Israeli media watchdog group CAMERA wrote here that “This bizarre episode raises at least two points for consideration. First, either the Times or Fayyad is not being truthful about an interview taking place. Second, if Fayyad gave an interview which provoked Fatah’s wrath, resulting in the prime minister’s subsequent denial, then this is yet another reminder about sources and journalists self-censoring when it comes to unflattering information about the Palestinian Authority”.

Then, there was this exchange on Twitter later:
Jonathan Schanzer @JSchanzer 1h
Fayyad’s disavowal of @NYTimesCohen piece feels a lot like King Abdullah’s backtrack on @JeffreyGoldberg’s piece. http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=22289 …

Jeffrey Goldberg Jeffrey Goldberg @JeffreyGoldberg 44m
.@JSchanzer @NYTimesCohen Just fyi, the Jordanian Royal Court retracted its partial denial of the King’s quotes.

Jonathan Schanzer Jonathan Schanzer @JSchanzer 41m
@JeffreyGoldberg @nytimescohen I saw that. Wondering if Fayyad will do the same.

Remember this? April 2013

Remember this?  In the very beginning of April [in fact, on April 1st], Salam Fayyad was taken to Ramallah Hospital for the second time in recent months — this time, for abdominal pain.   He was said to have been diagnosed with an inflamed pancreas.  [This can be due to gall bladder infection, whose acute symptoms can initially resemble a heart attack, and Fayyad did previously have a heart attack two years ago. Fayyad stayed in the hospital for three days — though this was not covered in the news, and few people even asked about it… perhaps because one of Fayyad’s chief aides told the media that Fayyad left the hospital on the first day…

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited him on the first day, despite reported work tensions between the two men:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visits his PM Salam Fayyad in Ramallah hospital
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visits his PM Salam Fayyad in Ramallah hospital

The photo was taken by Thaer Ganaim [APA Agency] and — to put it into context – it’s posted by Electronic Intifada, here, in it’s This Month in Pictures feature for April 2013.

Fayyad then insisted — despite the intervention of the U.S. Secretary of State John Kelly — on handing in his resignation to Abbas, who received Fayyad, drank tea with him, and accepted the resignation on 13 April…

Fayyad: the analysis continues — meanwhile, is Fayyad planning a coup?

Ghassan Khatib, who has returned to academia [Bir Zeit University], is most recently known as the previous Palestinian Government spokesman. He was appointed by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and served as a relatively conventional and cautious spokesperson for the Cabinet [not for the Presidency].

But Khatib was, for many years, a Communist. Yes, he was a member of the Palestinian People’s Party. And, he was the editor of the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center [JMCC], which actually used to be in Jerusalem, before everyone was forced to stay in Ramallah on the other side of Qalandia Checkpoint and the Israel Army’s Wall. In the late 1990s, Khatib served as the Minister of Labor in the Palestinian Authority. But Khatib was most impressive, and perhaps most efficient and valuable when appointed as Minister of Planning — he actually threw himself into the work of developing five-year plans.

Today, Khatib has written an analysis of Salam Fayyad and his recent resignation, published by Ma’an News Agency and posted here. Khatib wrote that, after his appointment as Finance Minister by Yasser Arafat in 2002, Fayyad’s task was to reform the financial system and clean up the administration. Then, in late June 2007, Mahmoud Abbas asked Fayyad to replace Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas as Prime Minister and “to form an emergency government”. Khatib wrote that Abbas gave Fayyad “the necessary authority and confidence to reform the security branches and achieve law and order”.

Fayyad has been portrayed primarily as an economist and government official — his role in controlling the security services is under-analyzed.

Yet, the main reason for Fayyad’s resignation may well be a dispute with Abbas over the size and power of the security services, which Fayyad has run on behalf of the donors.

Khatib writes, a bit cryptically, that Fayyad’s resignation comes at a moment when “there is a great deal of internal turmoil — over the budget, over the government’s political program and over the remaining division with Hamas. Among his other roles, Fayyad was a buffer zone, providing Abbas and Fatah with a shield against the intensifying domestic unrest”.

At the moment, Khatib argues, Abbas’ best option is to pursue reconciliation with Hamas through establishing a government of non-politically-affiliated technocrats — an option that the U.S. would certainly oppose. Khatib notes that “The price of this option, however, would be going against the US administration, which has just renewed political efforts that President Abbas is keen on pursuing…”

So, Khatib says, “Abbas seems to be resorting again to his favorite magic solution: not doing anything”.

And, in this scenario, Khatib states, Fayyad will stay on as “caretaker” Prime Minister for a long while — perhaps even “until it is politically feasible to appoint him again to form the next government”…

Khatib was there, on the inside, and should know.  He does suggest, however, that Fayyad won’t put up with this for too long…

Enter the New York Times’ columnist Roger Cohen, who published a piece today saying pretty much the same thing [for tomorrow’s print edition of the paper], datelined Ramallah, posted here.

Cohen writes that “the president [Abbas] hesitates. He mumbles about a ‘unity government’ with Hamas. He does little. And Fayyad is at his desk when he might be eating sweet pastries with his family”.

Cohen notes that “Theirs was a rocky marriage of convenience” [he’s referring to Abbas + Fayyad].

And, Cohen reports, Fayyad told him:

“Our story is a story of failed leadership, from way early on … It is incredible that the fate of the Palestinian people has been in the hands of leaders so entirely casual, so guided by spur-of-the-moment decisions, without seriousness. We don’t strategize, we cut deals in a tactical way and we hold ourselves hostage to our own rhetoric.”

At this point, it’s hard to help wondering — can Fayyad carry out a coup, if he gets good and ready?

Cohen writes that “Fayyad, after almost six years in the job, had had enough of the dance that leads nowhere, the ‘peace process’ that is a mockery of those unhappily twinned words. On April 13 he resigned.
His was a revolution: Of acts over narrative, of state-building over slogans, of pragmatism over posturing. His core thought was simple: ‘If you look like a state and act like a state nobody in the end is going to deny you that state’.”

In the wake of pervasive reports that Fateh wanted him out [except, of course, if Hamas would be the only alternative], Fayyad is now going on the offensive. He opened up to Cohen, and he criticized Fateh to the NYTimes [and, Abbas is the leader of Fatah].

Fayyad now says he quit because of Fateh.

Cohen writes:
“Fayyad reckons the party spent more time worrying about what he was doing than solving anything. ‘This party, Fatah, is going to break down, there is so much disenchantment’, Fayyad predicts. ‘Students have lost 35 days this year through strikes. We are broke. The status quo is not sustainable… I have gone through hell before. But it’s enough. This much poison is bound to cause something catastrophic. The system is not taking, the country is suffering. They are not going to change their ways and therefore I must go.”

And, Fayyad says, what he wants  now is a unity government and elections — which Abbas is hesitating over [because he’s enticed by proposals the  Americans are holding out, but will withdraw if there is reconciliation with Hamas.

What Fayyad isn’t saying so clearly is that he doesn’t want Hamas.  And he doesn’t want Fatah, either… There has to be one government for the West Bank + Gaza, Fayyad says.  “The essential precondition for that, he says, is a ‘security doctrine based on nonviolence’.”   It is Hamas which has to give up violence.

Cohen writes [it seems he’s paraphrasing Fayyad]:  “A unity government could get on with managing day-to-day business and, above all, preparing the national elections needed to know where Palestinians actually stand. Seven years without an election is far too long. Neither Fatah nor Hamas rule has any democratic legitimacy. Their positions are untenable even as they cling to power. The United States and Europe should make holding a Palestinian election a diplomatic priority … On balance, it is in the American interest to foster Palestinian unity, provided it is on the basis of the renunciation of violence … If Hamas will not cede its weapons to Fatah — if the putative state does not, in Weber’s famous definition, have the monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a given territory — there will be no state “.

So, is Fayyad planning a coup?  Maybe.   But what he seems to be saying — or, to be threatening — is that he may decide to run for President.  [Abbas has already said he will not run for another term — but Abbas will stay in office until he decides that new elections can be held]

Cohen writes: “Fayyad tells me he will not allow presidential inertia to keep him in the job. Within three to four weeks he will be gone — but not completely. Despite rumors floated by his enemies of a return to the International Monetary Fund, he will stick around.  ‘I will reflect’, he says, ‘and if elections come, as they must because they are vital, I will see how best to take part in them’.”

 

 

Salam Fayyad — still "caretaker" Prime Minister

Weeks after his resignation, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is still in office.

A report in the Gulf News quotes the Deputy speaker of the [inactive + beyond mandate] Palestine Legislative Council, Hassan Khraishah, who comments that it looks as though Fayyad will be staying in office until Palestinian reconcilation is achieved — in other words, for a while. This report is posted here.

Khraishah notes that “It is strange that Fatah and Hamas who had signed two reconciliation deals in Cairo and Doha have so far failed to name a premier and ministers for a new national unity government”.

He is also quoted as saying “Both rivals, Fatah + Hamas are not serious about reconciliation…[+] hope to achieve it has been dramatically vanishing”.

Meanwhile, Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian journalist living mostly in Jordan and who is “currently the director general of Community Media Network, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab region”, has published not just one but two articles on 1 May about Fayyad’s resignation [on 13 April].

In Al-Monitor, here, Kuttab reports that he was given “an exclusive and wide-ranging interview” with Fayyad, in his office. According to Kuttab, “The outgoing prime minister shows no sign of winding down politically. He talks with vivid detail about his exchanges with US Secretary of State John Kerry and his one-on-one conversation with President Barack Obama. With both, Fayyad says he stressed the practical, leaving the political discussion to the
Palestinian president”.

Daoud Kuttab posted this photo, via Twitter here:

@DaoudKuttab 30 Apr with @SalamFayyad_pm at the office of the Prime Minister in Ramallah, Palestine
@DaoudKuttab 30 Apr with @SalamFayyad_pm at the office of the Prime Minister in Ramallah, Palestine

Is it Fayyad’s or Kuttab’s view that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is having a hard time finding a replacement? It’s unclear. In any case, according to Kuttab, “Fayyad notes that any prime minister must pass what he calls the “Dheisheh test:” For Fayyad, any new Palestinian official must be able to gain the confidence of the clever Palestinian activists like those living in the Bethlehem area refugee camp”.

Kuttab reports: “When Al-Monitor met him Monday, he [Fayyad] was livid about an erroneous report in a local Palestinian outlet that he plans to return to the International Monetary Fund. He felt that certain political forces are trying to defame him with this leak. ‘It is as if I am an outsider and that when my term ends, I will return to the outside’, he said angrily”.

So Fayyad himself is saying that his term has not yet ended…

Continue reading “Salam Fayyad — still "caretaker" Prime Minister”

More Fayyad Fallout

The BBC’s Jon Donnison reported, in his Fayyad article [labelled a “What next?” piece], that “When the 61-year-old again announced he was quitting on Saturday night, it was at least the third time he had resigned since he was first appointed to the job in 2007.  That is not to mention all the threats of resignation over the past six years.  And yet Mr Fayyad is still doing the job, at least in a ‘caretaker’ role”. This is posted here

Donnison lists the two previous Fayyad resignations as being in March 2009 and then in [May] 2011, both times to make way for a government of “national unity” or of “transition”, in order to “heal the political division between Fatah and Hamas — which may indeed be part of the reason again now.

[Fayyad also quit once before that, to run in the 2006 parliamentary elections’]

Meanwhile, Hugh Naylor wrote in The National that:

“Last month, the two leaders [Mahmoud Abbas + Fayyad — but Fayyad cannot really be called a “leader”] were at loggerheads over the resignation of Nabeel Kassis as finance minister. Mr Fayyad reportedly accepted it before consulting Mr Abbas, which caused acrimony.  An official in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which Mr Abbas also chairs, said that spat encouraged the Palestinian president to accept Mr Fayyad’s resignation.  ‘I also think Abu Mazen was tired of Fayyad resigning every two months’, said the official, referring to Mr Abbas by his nickname. ‘But I also think Abu Mazen saw Fayyad’s threatening to resign as a bargaining chip to leverage power’…” This piece is published here.

Ah, yes, power — for, the scenario now being acted out was, and is, a classic power struggle between the two men, who otherwise are not really enemies. Abbas may well even feel some sympathy for Fayyad at the moment.

After all, Mahmoud Abbas himself was the previous champion of resignation [see our page on that, on this blog], when he served as Palestine’s first Prime Minister, an institution created at donor insistence to curb Yasser Arafat’s freeranging power. In a continuation of that paradigm, Fayyad was supposed, in some way, to be a “check + balance” to Abbas, who has since consolidated his hold on all reins of Palestinian power, and who has stayed in office beyond the expire-by date of his mandate until the next elections which only he has the power to proclaim, and which he also has the power to cancel.

Abbas does not seem uncomfortable at all in ruling by decree [at the encouragement of donors who believe in democracy only when all actors are “good guys”], in the absence of a functioning parliament [the Palestine Legislative Council], which closed up shop, at least in the West Bank, not long after the surprise election of Hamas [after Hamas did, for those 2006 elections, what everybody had called on it to do, which is to convert itself into a political party and contest the vote].

Donnison also reports, in his BBC piece, another theory [one of the standard Palestinian templates]: “One Palestinian official told me he believes Mr Fayyad has bigger ambitions, possibly to replace Mr Abbas, and wants to leave the job of prime minister in order to try and build his personal popularity”.

Continue reading “More Fayyad Fallout”

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.

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