Fayyad: Hamas losing support in Gaza, West Bank

PA PM says Gaza-based group avoiding elections because it is pessimistic about results; condemns Netanyahu over settlements.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Hamas has been avoiding elections because it is pessimistic about their outcome, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in an interview with The Washington Post published Friday.
"It is a well-known fact borne out by various opinion polls that there has been a steady erosion in Hamas’s standing, both in the West Bank and Gaza," Fayyad said. "I believe that is why they have been dodging elections."
Fayyad said that it was unacceptable that elections have not been held recently in the Palestinian Authority, calling a vote "overdue" and saying that it is "something I believe is going to happen, and I hope sooner rather than later." PA President Mahmoud Abbas was elected on January 15, 2005 for a four-year term, but remains in office due to the indefinite postponement of elections. The Palestinian Legislative Council, which sits in Gaza, was last elected to a four-year term on January 25, 2006, but also remains unable to renew its mandate.
During the interview, Fayyad spoke at length about his personal future in the Palestinian political establishment. "I'm not going away," he said twice, adding that he "would not rule out" starting a party of his own in case a potential Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal forces him out of the government. Tensions between Abbas and Fayyad have continued to intensify, and calls are growing within Fatah to dismiss the sitting president and appoint a Fatah figure as head of a new government.
Turning to relations with Israel, Fayyad said he thought that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was not serious about making peace based on a two-state solution. "Going back to June 2009, Netanyahu signaled for the first time a willingness to accept a two-state solution concept. But in terms of projecting that into effective support for a two-state reality, there is a serious distance to be traveled."
Asked about the potential to renew unilateral action for statehood via recognition by various United Nations agencies, Fayyad respond that "I am for any initiative that brings us closer to the day when we are able to live as free people in a country of our own."
Fayyad added: "What is the alternative to the Palestinian state as a solution to this conflict? There is no meaningful alternative."
That said, Fayyad was hesitant to promote diplomatic gimmicks that fail to really advance the Palestinian cause. "I don’t need another declaration of statehood," he said. "We already have one."