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Fayyad and Abbas: A showdown or minor disagreement?

Last week, news surfaced in the Palestinian media about a conflict between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. According to Alquds Al-Arabi, Abbas has not been answering Fayyad’s phone calls after his refusal to deliver a letter about the need for Israel to halt settlement construction to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ma’an News suggested that Fayyad didn’t want to meet with Netanyahu on the same day that 1,000 Palestinian prisoners launched a hunger strike. However Alquds Alarabi reported that the real reason behind the refusal to take the letter is that Fayyad was not consulted on the content of the letter.

The conflict between Abbas and Fayyad is seen as part of a larger disagreement between Palestinian leaders over what the strategy regarding Israel should  be. Alquds Al-Arabi reported that Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary general of the PLO, supported Fayyad in his refusal to deliver the letter. Abed Rabbo was also dissatisfied that Fatah leaders formed the letter content only.

Abbas and Fayyad had major disagreements in the past. For example, Fayyad was one of few Palestinian leaders who opposed the PLO decision to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state last September. In general, since Fayyad’s appointment as prime minister, he has worked on building Palestinian institutions and focused on internal governing responsibilities while other issues such as negotiations with Israel and negotiations with Hamas were headed by President Abbas.

Fayyad’s prior disagreements with Abbas over strategy, negotiations and the UN move didn’t seem to prevent the two from continuing their partnership. It is unlikely that Abbas will fire Fayyad at this moment especially in face of the reconciliation with Hamas being stalled.  However, Since Fayyad’s rise to power, many Fatah leaders have seen him unfavorably and might use this incident to lobby for his dismissal and replacement with a Fatah official.


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    1. caden

      Aziz, serious question. Say the planets aligned, the stars stood still and all the rest of it. Can either of these guys sign an end of the conflict deal and make it stick.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Richard Witty

      I still can’t figure out what they are fighting about.

      Internal authority?

      Reply to Comment
    3. the other joe

      Caden – highly unlikely.

      Reply to Comment
    4. caden

      Fayyad always struck me has a reasonable guy. But that’s only what I read. What does the average Israeli and I guess more importantly the average Palestinian think of him?

      Reply to Comment
    5. max

      Caden, the winner of the last elections was Hamas, and Hamas just reiterated a few days ago that it’ll treat any agreement as a cease-fire only… But in essence, your question is not well formulated – I can think of a deal that would be signed by either party.
      Just a sad observation
      Fayyad is a problem for both the PLO and Hamas, though his success helps the PLO in their internal power struggle – their successful nomination

      Reply to Comment
    6. noam

      caden, as much as your question is legitimate, let me ask you this – if bibi thinks the evacuation of a neighbourhood which was deemed illegal by an israeli court (!), within a single isolated settlement is “a decree which the public cannot tolerate” – how does he intend to turn his two state vision into a reality on the day the stars align, abbas and fayad make up, the hamas recognizes israel, etc…

      even if there is “no partner” in palestine, why worsen the situation on the ground, and not freeze everything until there is one? or retreate to a viable line, from which it would be reasonable to negotiate 1967-based borders in the future.
      now, you could answer “that’s not what he was elected for”, and you would be right. but then you must wonder, do we want peace that much?

      Reply to Comment
    7. caden

      Noam, I’m a right wing guy, actually had tickets to hear Meir Kahane speak before he got killed. But believe me, nobody likes the status quo. And truthfully I’m not a huge fan of the settlements. Not because they’re illegal or it’s not the Jewish homeland, or anything like that. But because they don’t seem like an optimum use of resources and they thin out the Jewish population. And they don’t seem to be strategically located. But here is the thing. If political exigency prevents Netanyahu from taking some sort of bold step. And there is no way the Palestinians are going to meet Israel even remotely halfway. Then what are you really talking about about. The status quo is the status quo. Until something changes it. And I would suggest that neither you or I knows what the trigger for that will be.

      Reply to Comment
    8. caden

      Max, I know who runs Gaza, And it truly astounds me that the Gazan elect the “war party” and then bitch when Israel responds. And if it was up to me I’d napalm the place. But that’s just not possible.

      Reply to Comment
    9. caden

      After all, wasn’t it Rabin who said he wished he could cut off Gaza and let it float off into the sea.

      Reply to Comment
    10. caden

      Aziz, if your out there let me ask you this. In my opinion there are a minimum of two things that Israel can’t possibly accept. The right of return and a hostile military force on the west bank ridge line. And if the Palestinians can’t agree to that then all the blogs and talking and negotiations, is an exercise in mental masturbation.

      Reply to Comment
    11. noam

      caden, you fail to answer me – what kind of future prospect for two states does bibi have in mind, considering his actions? and please don’t answer about the palestinians’ positions.

      you ask me to believe you “nobody likes the status quo”. well – i don’t.

      and yes, napalming gaza doesn’t seem like a viable move. what a shame, huh? lovely guys, you and kahane. just lovely guys.

      Reply to Comment
    12. “And if it was up to me I’d napalm the place. But that’s just not possible.”
      Napalm is very last season. It’s white phosphorous that’s all the rage now, didn’t you know?
      If you take such evident satisfaction in the thought of using chemical weapons of that nature against one of the most densely populated places on earth, you are in no position to talk about Palestinians needing to meet anybody half way. It astounds me that people who support violence so openly and so cheerfully, often taking apparent pleasure in the thought, see a demilitarised Palestinian state ringed in by armed settlements as a perfectly reasonable request to make.
      Why do you expect from Palestinians a personal commitment to peaceful living that you evidently don’t expect from yourself?

      Reply to Comment
    13. caden

      Noam, come on, Sure if I could push a button and get rid of gaza, I’d do it. I’d also like to have sex with a super model tonight and play first base for the Yankees. But back on planet earth there are certain realities. Truthfully, I don’t think Netanyahu specifically and Israel in general has the slightest idea of any long term plan. Which is definitely an Israeli trait. Great improvisation. Lousy long term strategic planning.

      Reply to Comment
    14. caden

      Noam, Vicky, sure I’d love to get rid of Gaza. And guess what, everybody in Gaza would love to get rid of Israel. I’d also like to have sex with a model tonight and play 1st base for the Yankees tomorrow. I deal in what’s feasible. But to answer your question Noam. I honestly don’t think that Israel in general and Netanyahu in particular have anyhting more then a day to day improvisational plan. Long term, they don’t have a clue. But then again, neither do I.

      Reply to Comment
    15. caden

      Besides, that whole area has been a pain in the ass since the philistines were there.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Kolumn9

      Maybe Abbas didn’t invite Fayyad to his birthday party and Fayyad told his BFF Abed Rabbo that he doesn’t like the outfit Abbas wore at the UN.

      Who cares what they are fighting about? One has no viable plans and the other has no power. Put together they might make a decent leader, but alas, the technology hasn’t yet been invented to combine a pragmatic Palestinian with a powerful Palestinian. Some day..

      Fine, you want to know what they are fighting about? Here is my guess. Abbas is rushing head first towards another confrontation with the Americans at the UN, just in time for election season in the US. He is doing this because he has no viable options and fears losing the initiative to Hamas or the Jordanians or heaven forbid to Netanyahu. Abed Rabbo and Fayyad think this is premature and is only going to lead the PA/PLO into another failure which would only worsen the position of the Palestinians even if they succeed at the UNGA. Confronting the Americans risks losing American aid, Israeli transfers of tax revenue and could lead to the collapse of the PA and a return to violence and in general complete anarchy in the Palestinian national movement. They probably want to wait after the American elections so that they can formulate a plan to return to negotiations, while in the meantime building infrastructure in the West Bank and political support in Europe and elsewhere.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Kolumn9

      Gaza has already been cut off, but is anyone working on the technology to physically detach Gaza and have it float off to sea? Efforts in this direction sound more productive than peace talks with Hamas.

      Reply to Comment
    18. XYZ

      Have to disagree with Caden regarding the settlements…they are vital to Israel and vital to any peace that may emerge somewhere in the distant future. Arabs live on both sides of the Green Line and so Jews must live on both sides of the Green Line. The settlements are the concretization of the Jewish historical connection and claim to the country. Jews have been living more or less continously in places in the West Bank and Gaza longer than Arabs have, up to 4000 years. Jews will continue to live in the settlements regardless of whatever political arrangement can ever be set up for the area. It is inconceivable that anyone who believes in peace can at one and the same time demand that all Jews be expelled from the east side of the Green Line and that Arabs be granted equal rights west of that Line.
      IMHO The ultimate status of the West Bank will be an Israeli-Palesitnian-Jordanian confederation, but this won’t be possible until the current political Islamist surge burns itself out, which I estimate will take 20-30 years (that is the amount of time the Arab citizenry will come to realize that it is a failure, just like Nasserite Pan-Arabism was a failure).
      Peace will only come when a Jew can walk around freely in Hevron without a special security presence just like he can walk around Tel Aviv.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Caden:
      “if it was up to me I’d napalm the place.”
      “everybody in Gaza would love to get rid of Israel.”
      Stop taking early Torah so literally. I suspect many Gazans just want to raise their children with some hope of a better future.
      I refuse your “us” and “them.” Think more about that model.
      Anyhow, reporting on internal conditions in the West Bank is a great thing. Thnks Aziz

      Reply to Comment