PA President Abbas and PM Fayyad 370 (R).
(photo credit: Fadi Arouri / Reuters)
US President Barack Obama’s visit to Ramallah has aggravated tensions between
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his prime minister, Salam
Fayyad, a senior Palestinian official revealed over the weekend.
official said that Abbas was now considering sacking Fayyad and appointing
Palestinian economist Mohammed Mustafa as prime minister.
Abbas has come
under heavy pressure from many Fatah leaders in the West Bank to fire Fayyad and
appoint a new prime minister.
One Fatah official, Tawfik Tirawi, accused
Fayyad of seeking to replace Abbas as PA president with the backing of the
Mustafa last week resigned from his job as director of the Palestine
Investment Fund, triggering speculation that he is about to replace
Established in 2003, the Palestine Investment Fund is an
independent investment company which aims to strengthen the Palestinian economy
through key strategic investments.
The Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted
the official as saying that Abbas was furious with Fayyad because the latter had
asked to meet with Obama separately during the US president’s visit to Ramallah
Recently, a sharp dispute erupted between Abbas and Fayyad
over the resignation of PA Finance Minister Nabil Qassis.
While Abbas had
rejected the resignation, calling on Qassis to remain in his job, Fayyad was
quick to announce that he had accepted Qassis’s request to quit.
announcement was seen by PA officials as a blunt challenge to Abbas’s
Abbas is also said to be outraged by Fayyad’s latest decision
to cut salaries of PA employees living in the Gaza Strip.
Thousands of PA
employees in the Gaza Strip continue to receive salaries from the PA government
although they have not been working since Hamas took control over the area in
Tirawi, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, on Saturday called
on Fayyad to resign.
Tirawi said that Fatah rejects any attempt to
replace Abbas – a reference to unconfirmed reports that Fayyad was planning to
run for PA president.
“All indications suggest that Fayyad has his eyes
on the presidency,” Tirawi said.
Meanwhile, the Fayyad government is
expected Sunday to vote on the PA’s annual budget – an issue that could further
exacerbate tensions between Abbas and his prime minister.
Ramallah said that if Abbas does not approve the budget, Fayyad will have to
resign, paving the way for the establishment of a new government headed by
Bassam Zakarneh, head of the PA employees’ union, said that
Fayyad did not consult with anyone before finalizing the budget, which is
estimated at more than $3.6 billion.
Zakarneh claimed that Fayyad was
planning to present the budget in the last minute so as to avoid any discussions
about its contents.