Abbas accepts Palestinian PM Fayyad's resignation

Palestinian Authority president agrees to accept resignation despite pressure from US, EU to keep Fayyad in office.

Abbas and Fayyad shake hands 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Thaer Ganaim/PPO/Handout)
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.
Fayyad 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 Nablus.
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 Ramallah.
“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.
Abbas and Fayyad were scheduled to meet late Thursday to discuss the crisis, however, the meeting was called off without any explanation.
Palestinian sources 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.
A PA 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 reinstated.
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 territories.
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.
One official accused the US administration of meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians.
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.