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US Efforts to Retain PA’s Fayyad May Have Finally Torpedoed Him

U.S. and similar EU efforts to retain Fayyad have instead worked to discredit him in the eyes of many Arab Palestinians.
Arab Palestinians throw their shoes in protest at huge banner of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad

Arab Palestinians throw their shoes in protest at huge banner of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad

There have been rumors for years that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the Western-trained and most Western-oriented member of the PA leadership, was miserable in his position and that he was going to resign.

He finally did.

At least most media outlets are reporting that Fayyad has resigned.  There are some still reporting that the resignation has not gone through, or that it was not yet tendered or some other speculation, but no one doubts that if it has not yet happened, it will happen soon.

What was the final straw?  Fayyad and acting PA leader Mahmoud Abbas often disagree about finance.  Fayyad is considerd, and for good reason, the financial brains in the PA.  He has a PhD in economics from the University of Texas, taught the subject in Jordan, and worked at the International Monetary Fund for almost a decade.  Since becoming PA prime minister in 2007, Fayyad also held the post of finance minister.

But that changed when Abbas pressured Fayyad into appointing Nabil Qassis as PA’s finance minister last year.

And then, last month, after Qassis and Fayyad disagreed over a draft budget, Fayyad accepted the resignation of Qassis. According to many reports, Abbas was furious that Fayyad accepted the resignation, and tried to rescind it.

Although a darling of the West, Fayyad has never gained traction as a favorite of the Arab Palestinians.  He ran for public office in 2006, having created a new political party called the “Third Way,” but his party came in last, winning only 2 seats.  Hamas came in first, winning 74 seats, and the party of Abbas, Fatah, came in second with 45.

And even as Prime Minister, Fayyad has had problems with his constituents.  In September a huge banner of him was pelted with shoes (a huge insult in the Arab world) during a protest of big increases in the prices of consumer goods.

But there are few with whom Fayyad’s popularity is lower than Abbas and other Fatah leaders who yearn to have their hands in the international aid piggy bank, just like their old boss Yassir Arafat did.

But for the West, Fayyad is their “Great Arab Palestinian Hope.”

So now the West, especially the U. S., is leaning on Abbas to entice Fayyad to stay just a little bit longer.  Why?  So that the U.S. has the opportunity to try out its latest peace initiative efforts.  Two months is what they are asking.  Sure, it’s reasonable to think that Secretary of State John Kerry will be able to clinch the deal that more experienced foreign policy experts and snake charmers were unable to accomplish over the course of decades.

Please.

But once again the U.S. and EU leaders have been pressuring Abbas and other Arab leaders to retain Fayyad, who is the only fig leaf of sophistication and corruption-free leadership in the PA.  Those qualities are essentials that foreign aid donors require – or should – before agreeing to send still more cash to a never-filled bank account.

But this time the efforts of the U.S. may have done more harm than good. Arab Israeli journalist Khaled abu Toameh explained that western efforts to pressure Abbas to retain Fayyad have instead worked to further discredit the prime minister in the eyes of many Arab Palestinians.

“Fayyad’s enemies have cited these efforts as ‘proof’ that he is a ‘foreign agent’ who has been imposed on the Palestinian Authority by Americans and Europeans.”

So, whether Fayyad is gone today or next week or next month, it will happen and it appears there is little the west can do to keep him in place.

Given that is the case, perhaps it will give the new U.S. peace professionals pause before they attempt to impose any major changes in an already dangerously unstable region.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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10 Responses to “US Efforts to Retain PA’s Fayyad May Have Finally Torpedoed Him”

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    Fayyad actually cared about the well-being of his fellow Palestinians. And he wasn't an anti-Semite, either. He had publicly stated to the *Arab* media that he did not want to uproot settlements to create a Palestinian State, but hoped that the Jewish settlers would remain and become Palestinian Citizens.

  2. Eli Neuberger says:

    He seems seriously interested in peace, so the Palis had to jettison him

  3. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    abbas; fayyad;hamas..what's the difference. None of them will accept a Jewish State. Just look at the charters for bith fatah and hamas OFFICIALLY on file at the UN – despite all the claims of oslo, they both still refer to Israel as the "criminal Zionist entity" and that "all Jews must be banished from the river to the sea".

    FINISH the border fence (unilaterally since the jihadists will never sit down to talk), end all support, financing, trade with, free energy, hospitals, schooling AND especially work permits for the palis; recognize their state; and let them function – and implode – on their own. The concept of "negotiations" is sheer fantasy and propaganda.

  4. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    fayyad cared about his villas and his swiss accounts. Same as the other pali "leaders." He had joined abbas in stating CLEARLY that no Jews would be allowed to remain anywhere in "palestine," defined by the PA charter as "from the river to the sea." Just charlie playing apologist for the jihadists again and attacking Jews. It's what you do

  5. Ira Tick says:

    1) Provide a shred of evidence to your point about Fayyad's moneygrubbing.

    2) Abbas never said no Jews would remain in Palestine.

    3) The 1964 Charter is from the PLO, not the PA. The PLO, the PNC, and the P(N)A are not the same entities. Besides which, the PLO charter was ammended by letters of recognition and the Declaration of Principles, which are treated as PLO and PA policy.

  6. Charlie Hall says:

    "Just charlie playing apologist for the jihadists again and attacking Jews."

    Just Arie playing ignorant bigot again and attacking people with slanderous lies. There is no evidence that Fayyad is personally corrupt — which is why Fatah hates him — and he has never belonged to any terrorist group — which is why Hamas hates him.

  7. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Ira Tick YUP..let's all play jihad apologists!

    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/08/12/ethnic-cleansing-jews-abbas/

  8. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Ira Tick YUP..let's all play jihad apologists!

    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/08/12/ethnic-cleansing-jews-abbas/

  9. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Ira Tick " The 1964 Charter is from the PLO, not the PA. "

    And yet the PA has that charter on file at the UN as its OFFICIAL Charter. By the way, check your "facts." The PLO is the governing body of the PA!

  10. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Charlie Hall "Just Arie playing ignorant bigot again and attacking people with slanderous lies" Charlie has no capacity for intelligent discourse, hence his fealty to obama!

    There is NO difference between abbas, fayyad and hamas. The goal is the same: end the Jews. But you know that

    Let's look to fayaad – your "moderate" (which to the apologists means he at least wears a suit and not a kaffiyah right charlie?

    http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/salam-fayyad-the-moderate/2012/06/12/

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