Premier’s Resignation Opens Door for Palestinian Unity

After years of internal division, Palestinian political groups may be better able to reconcile after the resignation of Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad. Despite Fayyad’s support from the West, Fayyad has been generally disliked by many in the Palestinian political scene. Now two Palestinian political factions believe that unity is possible with Fayyad gone.

The Ma’an News Agency reported that a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad, the third largest Palestinian faction and a terrorist group, pointed to Fayyad’s resignation as a chance for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to head a new unity government. Abbas’ Fatah party has been trying to reconcile with the Hamas terrorist group for years, but has so far been unsuccessful. The sides divided in 2007, ultimately splitting the Palestinian government into two.

Israel has long been concerned about Abbas reconciling with Hamas, which still refuses to renounce violence against Israel and claims Israeli cities as Palestinian territory.

Political Opening

Fayyad, who was never elected to his position, was named Prime Minister after the violent split with Hamas. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas has it’s own Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh. Unlike Fayyad, Haniyeh was elected as Prime Minister in the last Palestinian parliamentary elections, held back in 2006.

One of the smaller Palestinian political groups, the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), believes the best scenario now that Fayyad is gone is for Haniyeh to resign as well. In another Ma’an report, PPP secretary-general Bassam Salhi suggested the Hamas premier step down so Abbas can set up a new unity government.

Salhi also called for new Palestinian elections in the next three-to-six months.

Despite all the buzz surrounding Fayyad’s resignation, he may not be going anywhere any time soon. According to the WAFA Palestinian news agency, Abbas asked Fayyad to stay on in a caretaker government until a new one is formed.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, April 15, 2013)