Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has not decided who will replace
Salam Fayyad as PA prime minister, sources in Ramallah said on
Abbas is expected to begin consultations over the formation of a
new government as soon as he returns from a visit to Kuwait, which begins on
Monday, the sources said.
Fayyad submitted his resignation to Abbas on
Saturday, ending months of tensions between the two men over several
The tensions peaked with the resignation last month of PA Finance
Minister Nabil Qassis.
Fayyad’s decision to accept Qassis’s resignation
angered Abbas, who demanded that the finance minister be
“President Abbas will hold consultations with representatives
of various political factions over the formation of a new government,” a PA
official in Ramallah said.
The official said that Abbas faced two
options: appoint a new prime minister or himself head a unity government with
If Abbas chooses the first option, the government would consist of
independent figures or would be dominated by Fatah officials.
of two candidates for the premiership have popped up in recent weeks: Muhammad
Mustafa, former chairman of the PLO’s Palestine Investment Fund and Rami
Hamdallah, president of An-Najah University in Nablus.
But if Abbas goes
for a unity government with Hamas – something that seems unlikely in light of
tensions between Hamas and Fatah – he would head the government.
negotiations with Hamas over the formation of a unity government achieve
progress, then we will have a national unity government,” the PA official told
The Jerusalem Post. He pointed out that the most recent reconciliation accord
between Hamas and Fatah, which was signed in Qatar in February 2012, envisages
the establishment of a unity government headed by Abbas.
said that the new government would have to cope with a severe financial crisis
resulting from huge debts to banks and failure of donor countries to fulfill
their promises to help solve the crisis.
Fatah officials have welcomed
Fayyad’s resignation, holding him responsible for the financial crisis in the
“It’s time that Fayyad step down,” said Amin
Maqboul, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council. “We appreciate all his
efforts to serve the Palestinians.”
Maqboul and other Fatah officials
expressed hope that Fayyad’s departure from the scene would pave the way for the
formation of a unity government with Hamas.
Hamas has demanded the
removal of Fayyad as a condition for joining a unity government with
Fatah, on the other hand, had repeatedly called on Abbas to fire
Fayyad from the small Third Way party, and replace him with a prime minister
Muhammad Daraghmeh, a political analyst, predicted that
Fayyad’s resignation would not pave the way for unity between the two big
He told the Palestinian daily Al-Quds that the resignation was
the result of a power struggle between Fayyad and Abbas.
Talal Okal, did not rule out the possibility that Abbas may ask Fayyad to form a
He, too, said the resignation was not linked to attempts
to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.
Sufian Abu Zayda, a
prominent Fatah official, said that US “stupidity” had contributed to Fayyad’s
Abu Zayda and other Fatah officials expressed outrage over
US attempts to exert pressure on Abbas to keep Fayyad in office.
weekend, US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Abbas and urged him not to
accept Fayyad’s resignation – a request that PA and Fatah officials strongly
denounced as “degrading.”
“Fayyad did not want to be seen as someone who
has been imposed on the Palestinians and Fatah by the Americans,” Abu Zayda
“On the other hand, Abbas cannot afford to be seen as someone who
succumbed to US pressure.”
Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research
at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Fayyad’s resignation
represented a blow to Kerry’s efforts to persuade Abbas to keep him in his
“He lobbied strenuously to prevent this, and he
This is a troubling indication of the new secretary of state’s
ability to influence events in other areas, such as diplomacy,” Schanzer
He added that none of the candidates on the short list to replace
Fayyad were viable reformers. “Whether Mohammad Mustafa, [former PA public works
and housing minister] Azzam al- Ahmed or even Rami Hamdallah, it is
significantly less likely that the new prime minister challenges Abbas on
matters of transparency and reform,” he said.
The appointment of a new
prime minister would still not satisfy concerns of legislators on Capitol Hill
regarding the looming succession crisis in the PA, Schanzer said.
Abbas was unfit to lead, the new prime minister would not replace him according
to Palestinian law.
Rather, it would be the speaker of the Palestinian
Parliament, Aziz Dweik [of Hamas], who would hold the position for 60 days. This
would likely trigger a crisis that US legislators are trying to avoid.”