Palestinian Prime Ministar Salam Fayyad Quits

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad quit on Saturday after a falling out with president Mahmoud Abbas. The decision was made by Fayyad, despite US efforts for him to stay on.

Fayyad and Abbas met on Saturday for about half an hour. At that time, a Palestinian official stated that the prime minister officially handed in his resignation.

Abbas has been less-than pleased with Fayyad’s handling of the cash-strapped government, but the prime minister accepted Abbas’ proposal to stay on until a new government is formed.

Palestinian law requires a president to appoint a new prime minister within two weeks. Fayyad is a former World Bank official and has been credited with creating institutions in the occupied West Bank. His institutions would be needed if the Palestinians win their campaign for independence from Israeli occupation.

Rumors that Salam Fayyad would quit have run rampant in the past weeks in light of long-standing differences between him and Abbas. A senior Palestinian official revealed that Fayyad has had his resignation letter ready since March 23, but put off submitting it because US President Barack Obama was getting ready to visit. He also postponed because of Abbas’ overseas trips.

The Fatah Revolutionary Council also openly criticized Fayyad’s government’s economic policies, indicating a possible division within the Council. A spokesperson for Hamas, the rival Palestinian government which rules the Gaza Strip, stated of the resignation, “Fayyad left the government after riddling our people with debt and Fatah must assume responsibility because it imposed him from the start.”

Abbas’ Palestinian Authority is currently in financial crisis, partially due to non-disbursement of promised foreign funding. Western diplomats expressed their dismay at the latest drama in the Palestinian Authority encampment at a time when the United States is trying to re-establish talks with the beleaguered prime minister.

But despite being admired abroad and in Israel, Salam Fayyad decided enough was enough when dealing with Abbas. Fayyad also failed to establish a strong political basis in the Palestinian territories, a fact that has left him vulnerable to Abbas’ Fatah party’s attacks.

[Image via Υπουργείο Εξωτερικών]