By appointing an academic with no political or economic experience as prime minister, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas finally got what he and his ruling Fatah faction wanted: a yes man who poses no challenge to their power.

Abbas has in fact succeeded in killing two birds with one stone.

On the one hand, he finally got rid of Salam Fayyad. On the other, he found himself a prime minister who would not cause him sleepless nights.

In many ways, Fayyad had become the worst nightmare for Abbas and many Fatah leaders.

Abbas and Fatah did not want someone of the stature of Fayyad, a widely respected economist who also seemed to have political ambitions.

Over the past few years, Fayyad had become a real problem for Abbas and the Fatah leadership in the West Bank.

On a number of occasions, Fayyad did not hesitate to openly challenge Abbas and his political and economic policies. For instance, Fayyad was known to have opposed Abbas’s decision to seek upgrading the Palestinians’ status to non-member observer state at the UN General Assembly.

Fayyad argued that the statehood bid would harm Western financial aid to the PA and deepen the economic crisis in the Palestinian territories.

But Rami Hamdallah, the president of An-Najah University in Nablus, seems to be the exact antithesis of his predecessor.

Although he has no political affiliations, Hamdallah is known as a supporter of the PA and its president.

As president of An-Najah, the largest Palestinian university, he maintained close relations with the PA leadership.

His critics have even accused him of granting university degrees to a number of top PA security officials who never attended studies.

For Abbas and Fatah, Hamdallah is a convenient choice because they expect him to function as a dutiful servant.

Hamdallah is not the type of person who would hold a separate meeting with a US president visiting Ramallah, much to the dismay of Abbas and the Fatah leadership.

The appointment of Hamdallah also paves the way for Abbas and Fatah to regain control over the PA’s finances – something that they found difficult to achieve under Fayyad.

Moreover, it’s hard to see how the appointment of an academic could help solve the PA’s financial crisis and deteriorating Palestinian economy.

But for Abbas and Fatah, what really matters is that they now have a prime minister who reports directly to them and has no political ambitions.

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