A sharp dispute has erupted between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad over the resignation of Finance Minister
Nabil Qassis, Palestinian sources reported over the weekend.
said that the dispute could lead to the resignation of the PA
Qassis recently decided to quit the PA government – a move
that was rejected by Abbas. Qassis was Abbas’s choice for finance minister – a
job that Fayyad held for the past four years.
A few days later, however,
Fayyad, in a surprise move, announced that he had accepted Qassis’s
Fayyad’s announcement was seen by Palestinians as a direct
challenge to Abbas.
Although Qassis has not offered any explanation as to
why he decided to step down, PA officials said he was protesting against a
series of agreements reached between Fayyad and union workers.
Fayyad met last week in a bid to end the dispute, but to no avail, the sources
said. They added that Fayyad was determined to have Qassis removed from his
Fayyad’s move has also angered Fatah leaders in the West Bank who
accused him of “insulting” the PA president and seeking to seize regain control
over the Finance Ministry.
Najat Abu Baker, a Fatah member of the
Palestinian Legislative Council, accused Fayyad, who is from the small Third Way
party, of “openly challenging the decisions of the Palestinian president.” She
warned Fayyad against taking the finance portfolio for himself and called on all
the ministers to submit their resignations to Abbas immediately.
does not want anyone else to control the Finance Ministry; he wants it for
himself,” Abu Baker claimed.
“Fayyad has been treating his ministers as
if he was a headmaster and they were the teachers.”
official, Tawfik Tirawi, accused Fayyad of seeking exclusive control over the
Palestinian economy and finances.
Abbas met over the weekend with several
Fatah officials to discuss the crisis.
During the meeting, the Fatah
officials expressed outrage over Fayyad’s decision to accept Qassis’s
resignation and called on Abbas to appoint a new prime minister, according to a
senior Fatah representative.
“Fayyad needs to be reminded that this is
the president’s government and not his,” the representative said.