RAMALLAH, August 11 (JMCC) - Palestinian news outlet Quds Net reported Monday that Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told President Mahmoud Abbas he would resign if “incitement” from Fatah against him and his policies does not stop.
Tipped off by an aide to Fayyad, the Arabic website stated that the prime minister would step down should members of the Fatah leadership continue to attack his government and its economic policy reforms.
Omar al-Ghoul, advisor to the prime minister, told JMCC.org that the claim was unfounded. “It is not true, he will not quit.”
“Any differences are natural in levels of high power, it happens all over the world,” said al-Ghoul. These should not be overstated, he asserted.
Nonetheless, tensions within Abbas’ party are spilling over into government politics. “Fateh is tired,” admits al-Ghoul, “there are many internal disagreements.”
Independent Hassan Khreisheh paints a Machiavellian depiction of the struggle for power. There are many members of Fateh who “think they have fought and struggled for a long time and now believe they deserve high positions.”
“Some quarters of Fateh want to get back into the cabinet,” says analyst George Giacaman. He believes the recent postponement of the cabinet reshuffle was due to “quarrels over who would become a minister.”
TENSIONS WITH FAYYAD
Fayyad’s meteoric rise to power, despite being an outsider to the Fateh movement, set him up for resentment and alienation from some mainstream party officials, say observers.
“He rose as an independent, on the back of support from NGOs, colleagues and friends,” says Khreisheh.
Fateh antipathy towards Fayyad is not born of policy disagreement. “There are no political differences,” says al-Ghoul. “The program of the Palestinian government is part of our fight to achieve our state.”
Giacaman agrees that “the political program is the same; it is personal differences that cause the problem.”
Some senior Fateh members “try to spread rumors about Fayyad and pressure President Mahmoud Abbas to change the leadership,” says Khreisheh.
The threat of resignation is not a sign of succumbing to this pressure, say analysts. Rather, it is a political tactic designed to put Fateh back in line. “He [Fayyad] is indispensible as far as Fatah is concerned, as there is no other obvious leader,” says Giacaman. “The result [of resignation] would be further factional in-fighting.”
Fayyad remains well-protected from resignation calls. “These differences don’t mean any problems for Fayyad’s job because of Abbas’ support,” asserts al-Ghoul.
Since coming to power in 2007, Fayyad has launched an ambitious plan of statebuilding.
Fayyad told Haaretz in April that, the thinking was, by around mid-2011, if the political process will not have produced an end to the occupation ... the reality of a Palestinian state would force itself on the political process, on the world.
The result has been the showering of praise, support and money from Europe and the United States. “They [Fateh rebels] are not able to destabilize Fayyad because of the support he receives from Arab countries, the EU, the US makes him invulnerable,” says Giacaman.
“Theoretically, resignation is possible, but it won’t come from internal pressure,” says Giacaman.
Instead, the stagnation of the West Bank economy, foreign investment, or negotiations with Israel pose the biggest challenge to the prime minister’s leadership.