Back in April Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Prime Minister, tendered his resignation.
The resignation comes following major disagreements over government policy in the Palestinian Authority and rumors that Abbas would fire Fayyad, who also serves as finance minister.
The world was aghast at this “blow to the peace process”, but Khaled Abu Toameh skewered this ridiculous opinion:
How can Salam Fayyad’s resignation as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority be considered a setback for the peace process when he had never been involved in the negotiations with Israel in the first place?
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas never consulted with Fayyad about the peace process with Israel. Over the past five years, the two men hardly even spoken to one other.
The only people Abbas consulted with were PLO and Fatah loyalists. Decisions regarding the peace talks with Israel were always taken either by Abbas alone or in coordination with members of the PLO Executive Committee and the Fatah Central Committee.
Fayyad never belonged to any of these two Palestinian key-decision-making bodies.
The overall policies and strategies of the Palestinian Authority were never part of Fayyad’s responsibility.
Important decisions were always taken only by Abbas and a handful of his trusted aides, who never deemed it necessary to consult with their prime minister.
Even if Fayyad had stayed in office, there is no reason to believe that the chances of reviving the peace process would have been better.
The claim that Fayyad’s resignation is a major blow to the peace process is not only untrue, it is ridiculous. Such claims are intended to create the impression, totally false, that were it not for Fayyad’s resignation, the peace process would have been salvaged.
The truth is that Abbas was the one who decided to boycott the peace talks until Israel meets his conditions, including a full cessation of settlement construction and recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state.
It took a couple of months, but then the Palestinians announced the election of a new Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, which was considered a victory for Fatah.
Unfortunately it seems that Rami Hamdallah does not really want the job after all, for he tendered his resignation just two weeks after taking office.
There has been plenty of speculation as to the reasons for his resignation:
Political commentators praised Hamdallah’s academic achievements while quickly labeling him a Yes-Man. The assumption was that Abbas had learned his lesson from six years of battling Salam Fayyad, as he battled corruption, and this time had chosen someone who would roll over and play PM.
Rami Hamdallah quickly proved that he is no lap dog, when he quit all over social media. There are a couple of theories swirling as to why he threw in the towel. Some believe this was all a ploy by the Dean to pad his resume. Academics are extremely competitive and what looks better than the words, “Prime Minister” on your CV? The more likely scenario is that from the moment he assumed the position, Hamdallah realized that this ship was sinking and that was exactly what the inner circle wanted. They didn’t want to brainstorm solutions and they didn’t want to bale water. They wanted to pretend they had a plan and have the new PM play along. Dr. Hamdallah did what any thinking person would do: he jumped ship.
However, by Friday Dr. Hamdallah had changed his mind once more and withdrew his resignation:
Hamdallah, who was sworn in to office two weeks ago, reportedly met with Abbas on Friday afternoon. Though neither Hamdallah’s nor Abbas’s offices made any statements, a high-level government official said Abbas made intensive efforts to persuade Hamdallah not to resign.
The aide said Abbas asked Hamdallah to decide by Saturday if he is serious about resigning.
Hamdallah was said to have originally resigned due to “differences over his authorities.” An unnamed Palestinian government spokesman told the website of independent daily Al-Quds that Hamdallah resigned after “his deputies overstepped their authorities.”
Abbas gave Hamdallah two deputies, one for political and one for economic affairs, apparently to make up for his political inexperience.
Today, everything has turned about once more and the withdrawn resignation is now un-withdrawn with the announcement Mahmoud Abbas has accepted the resignation:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who announced on Thursday that he was quitting just two weeks after taking office.
“The president accepted the resignation of the prime minister and designated him to head an interim government,” Abbas spokesman Abu Rudeineh said.
The announcement came after a PA official had claimed over the weekend that Hamdallah had retracted his resignation.
A PA source said that Hamdallah, whom Abbas appointed on June 2, quickly found himself in the same situation as his predecessor Salam Fayyad.
“Hamdallah discovered that the Palestinian Authority president wants him to serve as a yes-man with no powers,” the source explained. “Abbas wanted a prime minister who would play no role and only carry out orders from the president’s office.”
Abbas’s decision to appoint two deputy prime ministers with expanded powers to the new government was the first sign of the PA president’s intention to curtail the powers of Hamdallah.
Some Palestinians pointed out that the real prime minister was Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Muhammad Mustafa, who also serves as the director of the PLO’s Palestine Investment Fund.
Mustafa was initially reported to be Abbas’s favored candidate to replace Fayyad. It remains unclear why Abbas finally preferred Hamdallah over Mustafa.
Since the general reaction in Israel has been “Rami who?”, it is obvious that it makes no difference who the Palestinian PM is. As the JPost article makes clear, it is the unelected President Mahmoud Abbas who runs the show, and the PM is merely a figurehead. In which case, it is not clear why the Palestinians need a Prime Minister at all. They should simply change their method of government to the American method with a President and a cabinet and skip the fig-leaf of a PM altogether.
The only effect that this charade has on Israel and the thankfully moribund peace process is to show that democracy in the Arab world is a chimera. and that political stability is a status devoutly to be wished for but unattainable at the moment.