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Abbas May Fire Fayyad

There is unrest in PA territories over price rises and austerity measures.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/6/2013, 8:55 PM

PA Prime Minister Fayyad
PA Prime Minister Fayyad
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmud Abbas may fire Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, a Fatah member said, as the party criticized the premier's government as being "improvised and confused."

Abbas "is leaning towards dismissing Fayyad from the head of the government and forming a new one," a member of Fatah's Revolutionary Council told AFP late on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"I am angrier than all of you at the government... but I don't want to say more than that now. Just wait for three days," he quoted Abbas as saying at a meeting of the council in Ramallah.

He said the key factor was disagreement over the resignation of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority's finance minister, which Abbas refused to accept but which Fayyad, a US-educated economist, agreed to.

Nabil Qassis, a former president of the Bir Zeit University near Ramallah who joined the government in May 2012, announced on March 2 that he was resigning, without giving a reason. Abbas was abroad at the time.

"Abbas informed Fayyad that if Nabil Qassis did not return to the finance ministry... Abbas would dismiss his government and form a new one," the official said.

The Revolutionary Council -- one of the secular Fatah's governing bodies -- also officially criticized Fayyad's government for the first time on Friday.

"The policies of the current Palestinian government are improvised and confused in many issues of finance and the economy," it said in a statement.

"The Revolutionary Council again calls for a review of the government's functioning and policies, and rejects taxes being blindly imposed," the statement added.

Fatah also denounced a Fayyad government proposal to shut down a Palestinian fund set up to fight competition from goods produced in Jewish communities.

The premier has had to deal with a wave of unrest in PA territories over price rises and austerity measures aimed at reducing the budget deficit.

Fayyad, 61, a political independent and former International Monetary Fund and World Bank official, was first appointed Palestinian prime minister amid the deadly takeover by the Islamist Hamas of Gaza in June 2007.

Hamas has never recognized his authority, continuing instead to recognize its own prime minister, Ismail Haniya.

Rumors have been rife in Ramallah that Fayyad is on the way out because of differences with the Fatah leadership.

AFP added that Fayyad is considered to be too close to the United States and to Israel, noting that Haaretz newspaper once called him "everyone's favorite Palestinian."

The Palestinian Authority is facing chronic budget difficulties labeled by ministers as "the worst financial crisis" since its creation in 1994.

The Palestinian fiscal crisis is aggravated by non-payment of aid pledged by global donors, mainly the United States and Arab nations, and tensions with Israel.

Fayyad spent three days in hospital this week being treated for pancreatic inflammation. He was discharged late on Wednesday after undergoing treatment and returned home to rest, a medic close to the premier said.