Salam-Fayyad.jpg

Palestinian Prime Minister Resigns

Because things weren’t hard enough already for John Kerry.

Salam Fayyad, the embattled Palestinian prime minister, has finally thrown in the towel after serving since 2007. For all his appeal to Western eyes and skill rustling up international support, he is despised by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (as well as by the rogues’ gallery of Hamas in Gaza, although their opinion is less directly relevant). Fayyad has been struggling to build credible Palestinian institutions essentially on his own all these years, without any politically powerful Palestinian allies. It’s a wonder it took him this long to realize the futility of his efforts.

This development is deeply awkward for Obama and Kerry, who have decided — hark, the familiar refrain — that a magical key to Israeli-Palestinian peace and harmony actually exists somewhere and can be located with the help of good old American gumption. While Fayyad was not directly involved in negotiations with Israel, his image — ex-IMF economist, US-educated, anti-corruption, distinguished, articulate — made the dubious narrative of the “peace process” much easier to sell, since Abbas — the purported “man we can talk to” — has long since lost any credibility. But Fayyad’s popularity abroad, significant as it was, was peanuts compared with the hatred he provoked at home, and he was never likely to win a final showdown with Abbas. Over at Haaretz, Barak Ravid goes into some detail on that relationship and its consequences:

Abbas and the Fatah party’s old guard that surround him saw Fayyad as a political rival who needed to be eliminated.

Fayyad’s resignation is another sign of the PA’s internal disintegration and the deep political crisis it is struggling with. In order to survive, Abbas imposed a semi-autocratic regime in the West Bank styled after that of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Journalists and bloggers are sent to prison, demonstrations and criticism are suppressed with an iron fist and the government doesn’t function while the ruler travels the globe.

The PA president looked on with jealousy as Fayyad gained popularity not only in Washington and Brussels but also in the West Bank. Senior Fatah party members saw Fayyad as an obstacle toward their political and economic ambitions. The Palestinian prime minister refused to transfer funds to them or to appoint them as ministers.

The financial crisis that struck the PA fell like ripe fruit into the hands of Abbas and the Fatah bigwigs. They decided to direct the public anger over the rising cost of living and high unemployment towards Fayyad and his government.

The conflict between Abbas and Fayyad grew following the latter’s objection to Abbas’ decision to unilaterally declare Palestinian independence at the United National General Assembly. Fayyad thought it was merely a symbolic step without real benefit and warned of the damage it would cause the PA as a result of Israeli sanctions. Fayyad was right. Israel responded by stopping the transfer of the PA tax revenues deepening the West Bank’s economic crisis and almost bringing it to a state of insolvency.

Abbas is no doubt feeling a warm glow of satisfaction over the political demise of his enemy, but he’d be well advised not to break out the champagne just yet. As Ravid notes, Fayyad’s departure is likely to increase the hesitation among foreign donors to open their checkbooks, which will only deepen the Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis. It’s certainly not going to encourage the Israelis to be any more forthcoming either, financially or in any other way. And the worse the Palestinian economy gets, the likelier it becomes that the people will unleash their frustrations in the time-honored way. With the West Bank Palestinians descending into violence, particularly violence that spills over into Israel, the odds of a brokered peace — which were never very good anyway — disappear completely. 

  1. Mafuta Kizola

    Isn’t the semi-autocratic regime in the West Bank designed to avoid a sequel to the Hamas take over of the Gaza. I don’t know how much the Israelis would tolerate it but it is safe to assume that Abbas isn’t keen on finding out the answer on his own so He is taking “precautions” of his own..

    As for Fayyad it is interesting that He is part of a long string of “Magical Prime Ministers” who are supposed to save countries out of dictatorship and poverty by the sheer power of technocracy, He reminds me of when the late dictator Mobuto of DR Congo was forced to nominate opposition leader Tshisekedi as PM by the international community and it was hailed as a landmark towards democracy and progress, but failed in the end. Maybe I seeing tendencies were none exist but this seems all too familiar.

    I wonder how one man can stop the rise of Hamas, sanitize Fatah Terror lust, and whole culture that idolize hatred of Israel. Maybe He had mystical Powers.

  2. Israel P.
    Judith Levy, Ed.

    Because things weren’t hard enough already for John Kerry.

    Just being John Kerry is hard.

  3. Zafar

    [hark, the familiar refrain -- that a magical key to Israeli-Palestinian peace and harmony actually exists somewhere and can be located with the help of good old American gumption. ]

    Wonderfully put! (Are they looking in the right place?)

  4. Skyler

    Who are you kidding? His departure will make this US administration only happier to help Palestine.

  5. Paul A. Rahe
    C

    It is amazing that a man of Salam Fayyad’s integrity was ever made Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. I doubt that the experiment will be repeated.

  6. flownover

    I have impressed myself with the increased lack of hope I have in Secy Kerry. Impressive because I couldn’t imagine anyone being worse than Clinton, but they have found him now !!

    The Peter Principle really does work .

  7. Nick Stuart
    Judith Levy, Ed.

    Because things weren’t hard enough already for John Kerry.

    Maybe has something to do with the fact that for the first time in decades he has a real job where he is expected to do real work, and be accountable for results (not that the MSM will hold him accountable, but historians in 100 years or so may).

  8. EJHill

    The Democrats have turned State into the Department of Failed Presidential Candidates.

  9. Valiuth

    Quick question, if I may.

    In the quote above it mentions that Israel stopped the transfer of PA tax revenue. I assume those are the taxes collected from the West Bank Palestinians. How can Israel stop the Palestinian Authority from collecting their own tax revenue? 

  10. Mafuta Kizola
    Valiuth: Quick question, if I may.

    In the quote above it mentions that Israel stopped the transfer of PA tax revenue. I assume those are the taxes collected from the West Bank Palestinians. How can Israel stop the Palestinian Authority from collecting their own tax revenue?  · 2 hours ago

    As I understand it these are only Sale taxes and Import taxes from goods that cross Israeli borders because having it at the entry of the PA controlled territory would require setting an actual border and they can’t agree on where to put the line so they work this way., the PA  have direct control of their own Income and Corporate taxes.

    http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=551340

  11. Duane Oyen

    Not one more dime to any of those characters.  Fayyad was the only one who understood at all the importance of the rule of law, stable institutions, and building a civil society as opposed to the usual “kill alla da joos.”

    Why should one taxpayer throw away a penny for Assad’s Swiss accounts, numbered consecutively with Arafat’s?

    I’m OK with dispensing small packets of beans and rice to every individual family who asks for it to prevent starvation.  But no fungible coin or other value.

  12. Zafar

    How can Israel stop Palestinians from establishing a border, or having an independent immigration policy, or from exporting products to third countries in a timely fashion, or from moving freely within even those parts of Palestine that are completely under PA control? 

    Don’t be surprised about the taxes, Israel performs many wonders in the territories.

    Valiuth: Quick question, if I may.

    In the quote above it mentions that Israel stopped the transfer of PA tax revenue. I assume those are the taxes collected from the West Bank Palestinians. How can Israel stop the Palestinian Authority from collecting their own tax revenue?  · 8 hours ago

  13. rico
    Paul A. Rahe: It is amazing that a man of Salam Fayyad’s integrity was ever made Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. I doubt that the experiment will be repeated. · 4 hours ago

    I’ve often wondered how he actually became Prime Minister.

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