Abbas and Fayyad shake hands 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Thaer Ganaim/PPO/Handout)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad resigned on Saturday, ending
months of tension between him and PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
submitted his letter of resignation to Abbas during a 20-minute meeting in the
PA president’s office in Ramallah.
It was not immediately clear who would
replace Fayyad. However, Palestinian sources mentioned two names as possible
candidates: Muhammad Mustafa, head of the PLO’s Palestine Investment Fund, and
Rami Hamdallah, president of An-Najah National University in
Abbas expressed deep confidence in Fayyad and praised the
achievements of his government in serving the Palestinian national project,
according to a statement released by the PA presidency following the meeting in
“President Abbas informed Fayyad that he has accepted his
resignation,” the statement said, adding that the PA president asked Fayyad to
head a caretaker government until the establishment of a new one.
and Fayyad were scheduled to meet late Thursday to discuss the crisis, however,
the meeting was called off without any explanation.
said the US and some EU countries tried over the weekend to prevent Fayyad’s
resignation, but to no avail.
The sources said that US Secretary of State
John Kerry phoned Abbas and urged him to keep Fayyad in office.
official said that Abbas “came under heavy” pressure from the Americans and some
Europeans to reject Fayyad’s resignation.
According to the official,
Fayyad had submitted his resignation to Abbas already in February. But Abbas
asked Fayyad to delay his resignation until after the visit of US President
Barack Obama to the region.
Fayyad’s decision to quit is believed to be
linked to a sharp dispute that erupted between him and Abbas over the
resignation of PA finance minister Nabil Qassis.
Qassis, who was handpicked by Abbas, was appointed
as finance minister last year.
While Fayyad accepted Qassis’s
resignation, Abbas demanded that the finance minister be
Fayyad’s decision is also linked to recurring attacks against
him and his government by senior Fatah officials.
In recent weeks,
several Fatah officials have publicly demanded the resignation of Fayyad,
holding him responsible for the sharp financial crisis in the Palestinian
Others accused Fayyad of working to undermine Fatah’s
political power by suspending salaries to thousands of the faction’s loyalists,
especially in the Gaza Strip.
Fatah officials said US pressure on Abbas
to keep Fayyad in power proved to be counterproductive.
accused the US administration of meddling in the internal affairs of the
The official pointed out that US efforts to keep Fayyad in
office “caused huge damage to the prime minister.”
Omar al-Ghul, an
adviser to Fayyad, said that the US intervention on behalf of Fayyad was harmful
not only to the prime minister, but to Abbas as well.