Fayyad Urges New Elections in Farewell Address

Outgoing PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad urged the Ramallah government to hold new elections to reunite PA Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Chana Ya'ar ,

Salam Fayyad, with PLO Chairman Arafat photo
Salam Fayyad, with PLO Chairman Arafat photo
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Outgoing Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad urged the Ramallah-based government to hold new elections, soon, in order to reunite PA Arabs living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

In a farewell address broadcast on local radio Wednesday, Fayyad said new elections would be the only way to heal the rift that has developed between the Fatah-led PA government in Ramallah and the Hamas-led government in Gaza, the Lebanon-based Daily Star reported.

The two rival factions have divided control of the Palestinian Authority between them since the end of a bloody militia war in which Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza in June 2007.  Repeated reconciliation efforts aimed at creating a "unity government" have all ended in failure.

Clashes between followers of the two factions began when Hamas won a landslide victory in elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council in January 2006. But PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, elected to head the entity's government in the PA capital city of Ramallah, has remained in office far longer than the charter-established term mandates, citing “national security” concerns. He has resisted calls to hold new "national" elections.

Abbas has had numerous differences with Western-backed Fayyad, an internationally popular independent with a respected academic and professional background as an economist, and a previous career working at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Fayyad's credibility in the world of finance has brought millions of dollars into the PA coffers from Western foreign aid funds.

Locally, however, Fayyad is loathed. Matters came to a head earlier this month when Fayyad accepted the resignation of the PA finance minister while Abbas was abroad. Nabil Qassis quit on March 3 over the PA's growing budget deficit and resistance he faced over austerity measures he had proposed.

Having stepped in as acting finance minister to manage the budget instead, Fayyad collapsed several days later and was rushed to a Ramallah medical center where he was diagnosed with an inflamed pancreas. In May 2011, the 61-year-old smoker suffered a heart attack during a private visit to the United States.

Excoriated by Abbas, pressured by snarled finances and facing new health issues, it took less than a week for Fayyad to announce his decision to step down.

Abbas yet to appoint his successor, leaving the Palestinian Authority without a prime minister, without a finance minister, and raising serious questions for the entity’s foreign supporters about the wisdom of their funding choices.