A Palestinian affairs expert commented on the recent resignation of Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad by saying, “The issue has absolutely nothing to do with the land, the cause or politics; it is about money!”
This is not the first time that Fayyad has announced his resignation, but this time it has come at one of the most important junctures in 12 years. International attention to the Palestinian cause ceased after the 9/11 attacks. It only started to regain its importance last month, when US president Barack Obama visited the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, and hinted at a new peace initiative when he delivered his speech in Jerusalem.
Fayyad was known as an honest financial manager. Funds from international donors spent mostly to meet Palestinians’ needs were safeguarded by him. He reformed the reputation of Fatah, the biggest Palestinian party, which was previously commonly regarded as a party that badly manages funds. The majority of Palestinians voted for Hamas and not for Fatah during the 2006 parliamentary elections due to the corruption within the latter.
Most funds come from the European Union and the United States, and the money comes on the condition that the finance minister be someone whose integrity and competence are trusted—two characteristics that distinguished Fayyad. Yet these characteristics have always caused him problems with the Palestinian Authority’s leaders, who were used to late president Yasser Arafat’s habit of exploiting money for political interests.
Fayyad’s rivals want to sideline him—not because they are corruct, but simply in order to use funds for political goals.
They may actually think that without political funds, Hamas, which uses funds from Arab and Iranian donors to gain political support, will infiltrate the Palestinians. But there is also a party that holds on to Fayyad because it fears corruption if he leaves, and it sees him as a premier who will protect the funds of the Palestinians, who struggle to survive under the Israeli siege.
Fayyad’s battle, however, is not with the hungry hawks in Ramallah. It is with Hamas and the Israelis. There is only one reason for this: Fayyad is the one person who gave the Palestinian government a good reputation.
Israel launched a fierce battle against him because he established and supported many small Palestinian institutions that strengthened the Palestinians’ local economy and gave hope to people who would otherwise immigrate or work, humiliated, building Jewish settlements on their stolen land.
Fayyad is an economic expert and his agenda is establishing real institutions for the Palestinian people.
As for Hamas, it knows that the Palestinian Authority’s good reputation will be behind its loss in any upcoming elections. Ever since Hamas seized power, it has not fought, it did not make peace, and it has not added anything to Gaza. All it does is stall and stall.
What about the president himself, Mahmoud Abbas? We know him as a calm reasonable man who does not like battles or conspiracies. These characteristics are not in harmony with the nature of the political atmosphere, but his weaknesses are what distinguish him. In the West Bank, he ensured the Palestinian Authority’s stability and continuity against the conspiracies of Israel and Iran, which are always seeking to either dominate or sabotage the Palestinian situation to serve their own interests. Many have noticed the fierce battle within Hamas recently, although the party denied it. This battle reflected the struggle between what is called the Iranian option that includes senior Hamas figures like Zahhar and Khaled Meshaal, and the Western–Qatari option. Perhaps Iran will fail to manage Hamas on both the foreign and the domestic level. This will increase the chances of reconciliation and the unity of all Palestinians under one command.
So now Fayyad resigned—or, to be more accurate, he was pushed to resign by the hungry hawks who used political justifications we all know are weak. In the end, the hawks will also take down President Abbas, who has always seen in Fayyad as a safeguard and who has always blamed Fayyad for his problems.