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
Abbas has in fact succeeded in killing two birds with one
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
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
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
But Rami Hamdallah, the president of An-Najah
University in Nablus, seems to be the exact antithesis of his
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
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.
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
Moreover, it’s hard to see how the appointment of an
academic could help solve the PA’s financial crisis and deteriorating
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