Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Thursday that he would not serve as the prime minister of a Fatah-Hamas unity government, nor would he run for president.
“I don’t intend to run for the presidency or anything else for that matter,” Fayyad said in an interview to Haaretz. “I cannot accept being an obstacle, never was and never will be … I made a very explicit call on the factions … to go ahead and agree on a new prime minister. That’s my position and nothing has happened since then to change my mind … So the short answer is no.”
Asked why there isn’t a unity government, assuming he won’t be prime minister, Fayyad said “that is a question you should ask those who actually claimed I was the obstacle. I told you I never thought of myself as an obstacle, I never was an obstacle and I never will accept being an obstacle, but … it is my hope the talks will lead to something practical … in reuniting the country, and that long-awaited process will actually begin the process of reunification. But this question really should be addressed to those who have maintained that I was an obstacle.”
Asked why Hamas and some people in Fatah were so afraid of the possibility he would be appointed prime minister, Fayyad said, “you know in politics it’s not the norm to have everyone’s support. I mean it’s only natural … different people have different reasons for [supporting you] or being against [you].”
“All I can tell you is I was appointed, selected by the president [Mahmoud Abbas] for prime minister back in 2007 under difficult circumstances [following the Hamas revolution in Gaza]. The conditions in the Palestinian Authority were critical, not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank … in terms of chaos and lawlessness and the PA was on the verge of complete disintegration, given those conditions of lawlessness and chaos. I tried the best I could with my colleagues then, and after that I tendered my resignation at the beginning of [reconciliation] talks. This was back in 2009, but these rounds of talks did not produce results. But the view that unity takes preference over anything else goes back to the talks in early 2009 when I tendered my resignation to President Abbas.
“All along we consistently made it very clear that we would step aside at a moment’s notice. I have always maintained that my own role is not … an issue. This whole effort in obtaining unity is far too important to be bogged down over the choice of prime minister. I’m doing the best I can until someone is ready to step in as a new government, and I will work with them and be as much help to the new government as possible, and will definitely be ready to step aside.”
The reason for the hostility toward Fayyad both in Hamas and Fatah may be found in a survey released last week in the West Bank, conducted by a research institute in Ramallah. The survey shows that more than half (57 percent ) of the people want Fayyad to serve as head of the unity government. Fayyad is popular even among some Hamas supporters, 20 percent of whom said they would like to see him as prime minister. Fayyad is the favorite candidate for prime minister of the transitional government among 78 percent of Fatah supporters.
For more, go to Haaretz.com