Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad resigns, revealing the bankruptcy of Palestinian politics . . . and the "peace process"
Dear Friend of FLAME:
Many pundits in the Western press have lamented last week's resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, calling it a setback to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Others lamented the collapse of what The New York Times calls "Fayyadism"---referring to Fayyad's focus on economic development and coexistence with Israel.
While there's no doubt that Fayyad had a positive influence on the economy and governance of West Bank Palestinians, there's absolutely no truth to the assertion that he has had or would have had any influence on the peace process.
In fact, Fayyad'd departure clears the way for a number of nasty truths to emerge about Palestinian unity, the Palestinian economy, Palestinian leadership and the peace process. These truths will be extremely disquieting for President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, since they undermine any hope---false as it was---the White House has held for saving the Palestinian Authority from itself.
First, the Palestinian Authority and rival Hamas, the terrorist rulers of Gaza, have been trying to reconcile for years. While Hamas has vigorously opposed Fayyad and held him responsible for the failure of reconciliation efforts---presumably he was too friendly with the West---his departure will expose the huge differences remaining between the disparate visions of a Palestinian nation held by Islamist Hamas and the more secular Palestinian Authority.
Second, while the U.S.-trained economist Fayyad knew a thing or two about straightening out the corrupt, ineffectual Palestinian economy, there was little he could do about its utter dependence on billions in Western aid. Fayyad's departure will shake the resolve of Western nations to keep dumping money into the bankrupt Palestinian economy and speed its collapse.
Third, 78-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has served eight years of a four-year elected term, has no visible successor. Prime Minister Fayyad, who is as unpopular with the Palestinian street as with Hamas and Abbas himself, served to support the illusion of a stable government. In actuality, the Palestinian Authority and Abbas's Fatah party are, from a leadership standpoint, in shambles.
Finally, as you'll see in this week's FLAME Hotline by Israeli-Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, any intimations that Fayyad influenced peace prospects are sadly mistaken. As Toameh notes, Fayyad had nothing to do with peace negotiations. What you see plainly now is what you (and the White House) could always have seen: Palestinians who do not want peace with the Jewish state and are not even willing to discuss it. (Good luck Mr. Kerry!)
Please take a few minutes to read this week's brief, but powerful Hotline article. I urge you to pass it along to your friends, colleagues, and fellow congregants using the "send to a friend" button at the bottom of this email, or using the buttons above to share it via social media.
Thanks for your continued support of Israel, and thank you for your support of FLAME.
Salam Fayyad and the "Major Blow" to Peace
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.
After Fayyad's resignation last Saturday, many Western journalists and political analysts rushed to describe the move as a "major blow to the Middle East peace process and US efforts to revive the stalled peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel."
One headline featured: "Salam Fayyad Resigns: Peace Process On Hold."
A BBC correspondent described Fayyad's resignation as a "major blow for US efforts to restart the long-stalled peace process with Israel."
Another British journalist, commenting on the resignation, said: "Mr. Fayyad's departure is a big blow to the peace process, which has been given fresh impetus in since last month's visit to the region of Barack Obama."
But those who are fearful about the future of the peace process clearly do not know what they are talking about.
As prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Fayyad was never involved in any of the peace talks with Israel.
Fayyad himself once explained that ever since the signing of the Oslo Accords about 20 years ago, it was the PLO, and not the Palestinian Authority, that was conducting peace talks with Israel.
Moreover, Fayyad was never involved in the Palestinian leadership's decision-making process regarding the peace process.
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 when Fayyad opposed Abbas's bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly in November 2012, no one in the Palestinian Authority took his stance seriously.
During the past five years, Abbas and his inner circle succeeded in turning Fayyad into a prime minister whose powers were limited only to economic issues; or as some Palestinians used to say, "Fayyad served more as a mayor than as a 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.
How could Fayyad have salvaged the peace process when the decisions were made only by Abbas and his top aides?
Was anyone expecting Fayyad openly to challenge Fatah, the PLO and other Palestinians by returning to the negotiating table on his own?
The Americans and Europeans seem to have forgotten that Fayyad represents a political list that won only two seats in the 2006 parliamentary elections.
Although there are some who praise his efforts to build state institutions and a fine economy, they also seem to be turning a blind eye to Fayyad's lack of grassroots support among Palestinians.
Fayyad's departure from the scene will have no impact on the peace process because the decision on this issue was never in his hands.
Besides, Fayyad's credibility has been severely undermined by US and European efforts to keep him in power against the wishes of Abbas, Fatah and many Palestinians.
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.
Abbas has been boycotting not only Israel, but also his prime minister -- who finally grew tired of the Palestinian Authority president's efforts to undermine and discredit him.
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