(JNS.org) Salam Fayyad has resigned his
position as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, adding uncertainty to
the future of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Upon taking office
in 2007, Fayyad, who holds a PhD in economics from the University of Texas and
is former economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), received praise
from some Western and Israeli leaders for his transparency as compared with
other Palestinian leaders, well as the economic and security development he
oversaw in the West Bank.
Fayyad’s tenure, however, was also marked by the PA’s
unilateral statehood bids the last two years at the United Nations and the PA’s
continued payments of salaries to Palestinian terrorists serving in Israeli
prisons, an issue that has recently ignited a heated debate over foreign aid to
the PA in Norway. Fayyad in December 2012 called for Palestinians
to stop buying Israeli products, and in November 2012 called on the
international community to “force Israel to stop its aggression” during
Operation Pillar of Defense, the Israeli army’s response to barrages of Hamas
rockets being fired on Israel, according to Palestinian
Over the past few
years, the PA has been crippled by economic problems as international aid has
dried up due to the global economic crisis. This led to massive street protests
in the West Bank and calls for Fayyad’s ouster. At the same time, many leaders
from the Palestinian Fatah Party, which controls the PA, dislike Fayyad because
of his close ties with the West and Israel.
Adding to the PA’s
financial woes, Israel also withheld tax transfers related the Palestinians’
unilateral bid for statehood in the United Nations late last year. But Israel
recently began resuming regular tax transfers.
Fayyad’s resignation also comes amid a new push
by U.S. President Barack Obama for peace talks.
“The U.S. has worked very hard,” a Western
diplomat speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the New York Times. “[U.S. Secretary of State] Kerry asked him to stay.
There’s been a lot of messaging from the Western community about how much we
value Fayyad’s work.”