Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced his resignation on Saturday following months of tension with President Mahmoud Abbas. Although the immediate cause of his resignation is unclear, animosity between Fayyad and Abbas erupted in March after Finance Minister Nabil Qassis resigned. This is the third time that Fayyad has resigned since he was appointed in 2007.
Although he was not a member of the Palestinian Parliament, the American-educated Fayyad was named Prime Minister at the request of the United States in an effort to reduce corruption and enhance financial institutions in the Palestinian Authority. His resignation comes at a critical time, just days after Secretary of State John Kerry proposed an economic initiative to restore peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. Fayyad’s departure also is a sign of the weakening stability of the Palestinian Authority. His resignation could impede American efforts to boost the Palestinian economy. Critics accuse him of making the Palestinian Authority overly dependent on foreign aid, while his supporters point to reductions in graft and overspending. Tensions between Abbas and Fayyad had been on the rise since he was criticised for his decisions to raise taxes and eliminate some subsidies.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad attends an opening reception of Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Delevopment (CEAPAD) in Tokyo in February. Fayyad was liked by the West, but he had less approval at home. (Photo: Reuters)
A new Palestinian government, the fourth since 2007, could be formed in a matter of weeks and Fayyad agreed to stay as a caretaker Prime Minister until it is formed. According to the Palestinian Authority Constitution, President Abbas has two weeks to appoint a new Prime Minister. According to Palestinian news source Al Quds, Abbas will begin consultations with political factions on Monday after returning from a trip to Kuwait. The Fayyad resignation fueled speculation about divisions within Fatah, and the new Prime Minister will also have to help unify the party. Potential candidates include Rami Hamdallah, the President of An Najah National University in Nablus, and Muhammed Mustafa, head of the Palestine Investment Fund to take the role of prime minister.
According to a senior diplomat in Jerusalem, Fayyad’s leaving will negatively impact relations between the Palestinian Authority and the international donor community, as well as with Israel. Overall, Fayyad has maintained strong ties with the U.S. and has cracked down on corruption and secured foreign aid for building up Palestinian infrastructure.