Abbas Accepts Resignation of New Palestinian Prime Minister

Move Undermines Stability at Key Time

Getty Images

By Reuters

Published June 23, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday accepted the resignation of his new prime minister, whose quick departure clouded efforts to project government stability after Western favourite Salam Fayyad quit the post.

Officials told Reuters that Rami Hamdallah, an academic and independent who became prime minister two weeks ago, decided to step down after a dispute over authority with his deputy, who is an Abbas loyalist and is close to the ruling Fatah party.

“The president accepted the resignation of the prime minister and designated him to head an interim government,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdaineh said.

With Abbas setting policy with Israel, the political tussle over the prime ministerial post seemed unlikely to have an impact on renewed U.S. efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to return in the coming week for another attempt to restart the negotiations frozen since 2010 in a dispute over Jewish settlement expansion on occupied land Palestinians seek for a state.

“When we talk about the peace process, President Abbas is our interlocutor and so it’s not going to have an impact,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters on Friday, a day after Hamdallah submitted his resignation.

“Whatever happens, it’s important that the Palestinian Authority government remain committed to that effort of institution-building,” Ventrell said.

Hamdallah’s predecessor Fayyad, a U.S.-educated economist, resigned in April after six years in office marred by tough economic challenges but strides in setting touchstones vital to future Palestinian statehood.

Fayyad was widely respected in the West for his efforts to curb Palestinian corruption. The former World Bank official was valued as a transparent conduit for foreign aid money crucial to keeping the economically struggling government afloat.

But Fatah politicians eager to control the levers of power berated his ties to the West. Their disapproval of Fayyad, along with popular discontent over high taxes and prices, helped squeeze him out.

EMBARRASSMENT

Hani al-Masri, an independent Palestinian political analyst, said Hamdallah’s resignation was another embarrassment for Abbas, whose government exercises limited self rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals with Israel.

“This time, he (Abbas) doesn’t have the excuse that the man was propped up by the West or had his own ambitions,” Masri said, referring to political accusations that political opponents often directed at Fayyad, an independent.

Mohammed Mustafa, the deputy prime minister widely seen as having been behind the swift challenge to Hamdallah, is being touted as his possible successor, along with Abu Amr, a former foreign minister.

Under Palestinian law, a replacement must be named within two weeks.

U.S. officials had expressed misgivings with Mustafa as a potential prime minister, a Western diplomat told Reuters.

A Reuters investigation in 2009 found that U.S. aid in the form of loan guarantees meant for Palestinian farmers were given to a mobile phone company backed by Abbas and headed by Mustafa.

At the time, Mustafa denied any wrongdoing said the funds were used to help fuel Palestinian job creation. Abbas’s administration did not comment at the time.

Abbas’ most powerful rival, the Hamas Islamist group that wrested control over the Gaza Strip away from Fatah in 2007, said Hamdallah’s resignation showcased divisions that only prolonged the Palestinian political split.

Since the brief civil war after Hamas won legislative polls in 2006, Palestinians have had no functioning parliament or national elections, and a unity pact pledged by Hamas and Fatah in 2011 and renewed this year has yet to materialise.

Wasel Abu Yousef, a top official in the Palestine Liberation Organisation, told Reuters the new prime ministerial vacancy could be an opportunity for Abbas himself to head an interim government of technocrats, pending new parliamentary polls envisaged by the reconciliation accord.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.