Fatah officials who met in Ramallah this week urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to take three key portfolios from Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, including the Finance Ministry.
The Fatah officials later issued a statement that concluded with the call “Revolution Until Victory” – a motto that was endorsed by the faction immediately after its creation more than 40 years ago and that became famous during the time it was carrying out terror attacks against Israel.
The officials also reiterated their opposition to the idea of Israel being a Jewish state.
The call for a cabinet reshuffle is seen by Palestinians as part of Fatah’s efforts to undermine the status of Fayyad, who does not belong to Fatah. It is also seen as yet another sign of mounting tensions between Fatah and the prime minister.
Fatah officials have repeatedly accused Fayyad of working to weaken their faction by cutting off funds and keeping its representatives away from key positions in his cabinet.
Fatah is particularly worried about Fayyad’s control over the Finance Ministry and decisions he has taken to combat financial and administrative corruption and nepotism in various PA institutions.
The demand to effectively restrict the powers of the prime minister comes against a backdrop of reports about a sharp crisis that has erupted between Abbas and Fayyad – not only over money and power, but also regarding the latter’s plan to declare a Palestinian state unilaterally by August 2011. Abbas and Fatah have come out against the plan.
The demand was issued at the end of a four-day meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah.
The council members called on Abbas to employ his constitutional authority to reshuffle Fayyad’s cabinet so Fatah would regain control over three key portfolios: the Finance, Foreign Affairs and Interior ministries.
“The Revolutionary Council, in the framework of enhancing and boosting the Palestinian government [efforts] to serve the Palestinian people on Palestinian land, recommends that the president carry out a cabinet reshuffle in accordance with his constitutional authority,” the council said in a statement.
Although the statement did not specify the nature of the required cabinet reshuffle, Fatah officials later said that they were asking for the three ministries to be handed over to their faction.
Fatah already has 11 out of the 21 ministers in the Fayyad cabinet. However, Fatah officials said it was inconceivable that the faction did not have control over any of the three “sovereign” ministries.
“We are the ruling party, and there’s no reason why we should not be in control of these major ministries,” one official told The Jerusalem Post
on Wednesday. “We will continue to put pressure on President Abbas until he accepts our demands.”
The Fatah official said he could not go on the record because the council had asked its members to refrain from making public statements about this issue.
Another Fatah official told the Post
that he did not expect Fayyad to relinquish control over the Finance Ministry.
“He knows that he will lose the support of the [international] donors if he gives up this ministry,” he said. “He [Fayyad] is also aware of the fact that the donors will stop channeling funds to the Palestinian Authority if Fayyad is not in charge of the Finance Ministry.”
The council also recommended that Abbas take steps to regain control over the official PA media, including replacing Yasser Abed Rabbo, who is in charge of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation. Abed Rabbo, a top PLO official, is not a member of Fatah.
Palestinian political commentator Hani al-Masri said it was obvious
that Fatah wanted a Fatah government and not a Fayyad government.
“They want a Fatah government headed by Salam Fayyad and not a Fayyad
government in which Fatah participates,” he said. “It’s said that this
government is a one-man government belonging to Fayyad.”
Masri said that while some ministers were doing a good job, others were
apparently involved in corruption. He also pointed out that some
ministers had been accused of working to undermine Fatah.
He said it was absurd that Fatah was seeking to increase its
representation in the cabinet at a time when its leaders had expressed
opposition to Fayyad’s plan to declare a Palestinian state unilaterally