Palestine PM Fayyad Resigns, a Victim of Israeli and US funding cut-off and backlash against Austerity

The man recognized by the Palestine government based in Ramallah as prime minister, Salam Fayyad, has tendered his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas. The most immediate cause of the dispute between the two was that, under pressure from crowds and from the Fateh party, the minister of finance, Nabil Qassis, tendered his resignation. Fayyad rejected that resignation, but President Abbas accepted it, overruling his prime minister. The finance portfolio is so controversial because the Palestine government is broke.

Aljazeera English reports:

A respected economist, Fayyad was undone in part by punitive Israeli and American policies that cut off money to the Palestinian government because it sought observer state status at the United Nations. (Israel collects taxes and tariffs for Palestine and then turns the money over to Ramallah, but had declined to release the funds since November.) The money was released after President Obama’s recent visit to the region, but far too late to save Fayyad.

The US really only has itself to blame for the loss of Fayyad, with whom Washington liked to deal. If they liked him so well they shouldn’t have cut his government off from funding or allowed their Israeli clients to do so. As for the hard line ruling Likud Party in Israel, it is dedicated to keeping the Palestinians stateless and little more than slaves, whose property can be usurped at will. So no doubt Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his allies will greet the news of disarray in Palestine with great glee, whatever they say publicly.

Israel also undermined Fayyad by flooding Israeli settlers into the Palestinian West Bank and grabbing Palestinian resources such as water, making Fayyad look helpless and clueless as the territory over which he allegedly ruled looked more and more like Swiss cheese, settled by hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens. The United States government sometimes timidly demurs from Israel’s policy of stealing Palestinian land, but de facto Washington is Israel’s enabler in this regard.

Fayyad had become extremely unpopular in the West Bank not only because of his helplessness and perceived good relations with Israel and the United States but also because of high inflation and widespread indebtedness. Many Palestinians are deeply indebted to banks. The Palestine government’s lack of funds, imposed by Washington and Tel Aviv, contributed mightily to the economic crisis.

Hamas in Gaza has its own prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh. The Hamas government was elected in January, 2006, but the Israelis and the Bush administration declined to recognize the elected government and connived at a coup against it. The coup succeeded in the West Bank, bringing the Palestine Liberation Organization back to power there. But it failed in Gaza, where Hamas retained power. Attempts by Israel in 2008-2009 and fall of 2012 to dislodge Hamas militarily from Gaza were miserable failures.

Some analysts think that President Abbas wants to move to a national unity government with Hamas, and that Hamas’s rejection of Fayyad as prime minister was an obstacle to that step. After that, Abbas is said to want to move to new elections. The Israeli right wing will squawk about Hamas, but then they should not have undermined Fayyad.

The USG Open Source Center translates an account from al-Sharq al-Awsat dated April 13, 2013, which appeared in the run-up to the final resignation:

“The Fatah Movement wants to get rid of Fayyad and made several attempts in this regard over several years through closed meetings and the media, and by inciting trade unions against him. It finally motivated the Palestinian street against his policies.

However, Abu-Mazin [Mahmoud Abbas], who was angry at Fayyad in the past months, has different calculations related to the continuation of the flow of funds. Also, he does not wish to engage in a clash with Western powers that support and want Fayyad. If Fayyad leaves his post, his move will affect the level of the Western aid to the Palestinian Authority and harm measures that were announced by US Secretary of State to consolidate growth in the West Bank.

Fayyad enjoys large US support. US President Barack Obama praised him several times when he visited Palestine and Israel last month. He also met privately with Fayyad in Ramallah. Kerry too did the same.

Abu-Mazin disagreed with Fayyad many times. But what Fayyad considered a challenge to him when Abu-Mazin accepted Finance minister Nabil Qassis’s resignation last month after he personally rejected it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Abu-Mazin may wait for an agreement with HAMAS in order to get rid of Fayyad. He received yesterday President of the Central Elections Commission Hanna Nasir who handed him a file on the results of the registration of voters. The voter list has been updated in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Nasir told the president that the central elections commission will be ready to hold elections when a presidential decree setting a date for the elections will be issued.

Before issuing two simultaneous decrees to form a government and set a date for elections, Abu-Mazin wants to agree with HAMAS on the formation of a unity government to be led by himself, so that elections may be held afterward in three months’ time.

However, many problems concerning the priority and importance of issues stand in the way at a time when HAMAS accuses Fatah of being selective and says that all issues, including the status of the PLO, must be resolved at the same time.

(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic — Influential Saudi-owned London daily providing independent coverage of Arab and international issues; editorials reflect official Saudi views on foreign policy)”

9 Responses

  1. Usually I agree with your assessments of US-Israel relations but it is difficult to do so here, i.e, when you refer to Israel as a “client” of the United States. An American president who in 2009 seemed ready to press for greater recognition, opportunity, and status for Palestinians while in 2013 embraces Israeli repression operates from a posture of subordination, not domination. Whether assessing US policy toward Israeli-Palestinian relations, Illegal settlements, or tensions with Iran the U.S. appears subservient to Israeli preferences, not the reverse. I see little evidence to suggest President Obama will emphasize American interests, much less speak on behalf of Palestinians.

  2. Just who do Americans think will replace Abbas when he leaves in the near future after many years of utter failure?

    Hint: it will not be a “moderate.”

    As for the Israelis, they need to remember that old cliche … “be really careful what you wish for.”

    Once the PLO disappears because of powerlessness, the Arabs are NOT going to simply disappear, but be even more radicalized.

    The bottom line is the Israelis ACTIONS are sending Israel down a suicidal path. Eventually the Israelis are going to step over the edge of the cliff and discover too late that they are going to crash into the rocks and the US can not and will not try to save it.

    • Agreed.

      The Israeli hardliners in Likud attempted from 1982 onward to destroy the P.L.O in Lebanon. Later on, they even launched commando-style raids and air attacks on Tunisia in the mid to late 1980s to wipe out the P.L.O. as an entity. By the end of that decade PM Yitzhak Shamir was trying to commence a dialogue with the P.L.O. to help stem the First Intifada.

      The Palestinians became more radicalized, especially in Gaza with Hamas, in the 1990s. Islamic Jihad also grew in popularity.

      Today, Hamas in Gaza is actually facing assassination of its leaders by extremist elements who are upset that it is too moderate. Arafat’s Fatah organization is largely rejected by most Gazans and the more militant Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda groups within Gaza are have increased in popularity.

      The key military aspect that will face Israel is the prospect of continued arming of Gazan militants with more deadly weaponry. The long-awaited “Tel Aviv rocket” has been acquired and used by Hamas against Israel last November.

      It was IDF body counts in the Second Lebanon War in 2006 that turned the Israeli public against that war (112 IDF personnel killed in action). Israel has not returned to Lebanon since that conflict.

      Israel has the ability to extend an economic and diplomatic “olive branch” to the Palestinan leadership but has avoided doing so.

      • please give citations for this:

        “Arafat’s Fatah organization is largely rejected by most Gazans and the more militant Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda groups within Gaza are have increased in popularity.”

  3. Interesting, the relationship between the various parts of “the Palestinians” and “the Israelis.” The stage setting of course shows just the facile images, and the directions in the play move the players in the best traditions of Greek drama.

    Behind it all is the real world of corruption and venality and cynical manipulation, pretty much usually just for profit, plain old personal gain. It would be nice if humans could do better, if the ones who have the skills and drive to political dominance had the general welfare in mind. Instead there’s the long, long litany of corruption in the place called “Israel,” and of course in the place called “Whateverland.” It’s not that the elements that drive the patent insanity, both on the part of the public actors like Yahoo, and in the shadows off in the wings.

    It’s old news now, but here’s a little reminder from Way Back in 2005, almost a century ago in Modern Time, about how venial and self-promotion and whatever the disease process is that produces the mess that drives so much of what is going on in the world right now:

    In a Ruined Country: How Yasir Arafat destroyed Palestine
    [One little vignette, among many in the article, hinting at the incestuous relations between Israeli "business" and the other side of the Wall.] The amounts of money stolen from the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people through the corrupt practices of Arafat’s inner circle are so staggeringly large that they may exceed one half of the total of $7 billion in foreign aid contributed to the Palestinian Authority. The biggest thief was Arafat himself… A secret report prepared by an official Palestinian Authority committee headed by Arafat’s cousin concluded that in 1996 alone, $326 million, or 43 percent of the state budget, had been embezzled, and that another $94 million, or 12.5 percent of the budget, went to the president’s office, where it was spent at Arafat’s personal discretion. An additional 35 percent of the budget went to pay for the security services, leaving a total of $73 million, or 9.5 percent of the budget, to be spent on the needs of the population of the West Bank and Gaza… Arafat hid his personal stash, estimated at $1 billion to $3 billion, in more than 200 separate bank accounts around the world, the majority of which have been uncovered since his death.
    Contrary to the comic-book habits of some Third World leaders, such as President Mobutu Sese Seko, of Zaire, and Saddam Hussein, Arafat eschewed lurid displays of wealth. His corruption was of a more sober-minded type. He was a connoisseur of power, who used the money that he stole to buy influence, to provoke or defuse conspiracies, to pay gunmen, and to collect hangers-on the way other men collect stamps or butterflies. Arafat had several advisers who oversaw the system of patronage and theft, which was convincingly outlined in a series of investigative articles by Ronen Bergman that appeared during the late 1990s in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. [http://www.israelbehindthenews.com/bin/content.cgi?ID=573&q=1 ] … Official monopolies on basic goods and services had exclusive suppliers on the Israeli side. These profitable contracts were made available by Arafat to companies associated with former high-ranking members of the Israeli civil administration and the security services in the West Bank and Gaza.

    link to theatlantic.com
    And from the same source:

    “Yes, the Palestinians missed a lot of opportunities, but don’t blame us,” he tells me. “We were a million people in this land, and the Israelis were less than a hundred thousand people. But they came here very determined, and they worked very hard. Then they committed a few massacres that made people afraid, and then our stupid leaders told the people to leave. We always tend to say it’s a Zionist plot with the British. What we call a plot, they call a plan.”

    What are the chances that anything good for the common person can come out of all of this, the real essence of “government” there, and here?

    And for dessert, how about this?

    Reality Check: The Hazards of Optimism

    link to israelbehindthenews.com

  4. The entire PA leadership should resign, with friends like Palestinian Authority, Palestinians don’t need an enemy. Ironically Palestinian in a free and fair election in which they elected Hamas showed that they don’t have any fate in Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah Party, in fact as we have seen PA are more concerned in pleasing and having “legitimacy/credibility” with the “west” than among Palestinians.

  5. No one will shed even one drop of tear. Fayyad was a zionist puppet, like Erdogan, did nothing except talking about “Israel security” where made everyone angry. It is time for thim to fuck off.

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