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So we don't shift from 'caretaker' to 'de facto' government

January 24, 2014 at 11:29 am

Dr Salam Fayyad resigned after Palestinians had had enough of the blatant and bold international interventions in their internal affairs; and after attempts to impose a high commissioner on them reached boiling point. This became evident from the stances and statements of US Secretary of State, John Kerry. However, the man who has become a difficult figure in the internal Palestinian equation elevated his administration from ‘caretaker’ government to a ‘de facto’ government.

One of the likely scenarios for the next stage could be the transformation of the current caretaker Palestinian administration – the longest ever in history – into a de facto government, which may last for days or weeks, maybe even months or years. This entire issue has not been decided yet.

Another scenario, which is more optimistic, is that the Palestinians will establish a National Unity government in accordance with the Doha agreement and accords and understandings made earlier in Cairo. However, because the Palestinian horizon is still stormy, the process of reconciliation will delay this option at least in the next couple of months. In the interim, we will see hints of active political movement toward negotiations and efforts to revive the peace process. This means that Fayyad would continue to conduct affairs for the next few months.

The third scenario would include the appointment of a Prime Minister and an interim government, provided that they are students and graduates of the “Fayyad” school of thought and meet the standards of the donors for the economic peace project. John Kerry unveiled this project after he failed to approach the hottest political portfolios in the final solution negotiations for the Palestinian issue.

We are now at a point where all options are open, ranging from Fayyad keeping his position, to the return of ‘Fayyadism’ without Fayyad, to the less likely option of continuing reconciliation and working towards re-establishing the national movement and unity. The Palestinian government may even go through a transitional phase lasting several months, waiting for the ‘white smoke’ from Ramallah.

Fayyad’s resignation, and more importantly its acceptance, has had a positive impact on Palestinian political and public policy, even amongst Fayyad and his fan club. No one could justify him keeping his position after all the outright support – which even reached the point of dictation – from Washington. However, the impact of his resignation will soon be gone if developments lead to the return of Fayyad or “Fayyadism”. The only step that would add momentum and give hope and optimism for a brighter future is a step towards reconciliation and the restoration of unity.

The most amusing reaction to the resignation was within some Hamas circles in Gaza. Sami Abu Zuhri said that Fayyad’s resignation is an internal affair concerning Fatah and the Palestinian Authority; it was as if the senior spokesperson was talking about a government in a far off land, or as if he were speaking on behalf of a country neighbouring the Palestinians that does not interfere in its internal affairs. It was a poor statement, even if it was made to imply that this resignation does not fall in the context of reconciliation and the implementation of agreements in relation to it.

The best reaction to the resignation was that of Bassam Al-Salhi, who called on Ismail Haniyeh and his government to resign (or submit their resignation) to pave the way to continue negotiations regarding the formation of a national government. He also called for an immediate meeting of the PLO temporary leadership in order to agree on the structure of the new government, set a date for the next elections within the next 3-6 months, and call on the Palestinian Legislative Council to hold a special session. The session is to be held before the scheduled elections in order for it to activate the elected Palestinian institutions, even if their constitutional mandates have ended, in an effort to consolidate the path to reconciliation, restore confidence, and revitalise the institutions. 

We hope that a unity and reconciliation government replaces Fayyad’s future government. We also hope that Hamas makes an initiative that overcomes “the issue of refraining from interfering in internal affairs” and proposes a national initiative that builds upon what has happened, in order to activate the agreements that have been made. Moreover, we would like Fatah to move past its internal divisions, which will only escalate in light of the resignation and the upcoming deliberations over appointing and authorising new members of the government. Hopefully the other groups, if just this once, will act as a viable player in the Palestinian arena.

We hope that the Palestinian youth and popular movements, the boycotting and anti-normalisation groups, and the civil society are able to contribute as players. This moment will decide the Palestinian fate, and the current state of carelessness displayed by the Palestinians recently is enough to set off a thousand alarms. 

The author is the Director, AL Quds Center for Political Studies, Jordan. This article is a translation of the Arabic which appeared Addustour newspaper, 18/4/2013

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.