Fatah officials urge Abbas to oust Fayyad as PM (JERUSALEM POST) By KHALED ABU TOAMEH 04/29/12)
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Buoyed by a series of victories in elections for student councils and
professional unions, Fatah representatives over the weekend urged
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to replace Prime
Minister Salam Fayyad with a Fatah official.
In the past few weeks, supporters of Fatah scored major victories in
elections for student councils at four universities in the West Bank:
Bir Zeit University north of Ramallah, Bethlehem University, Al-Quds
University in Abu Dis and Hebron University.
Fatah supporters also won a majority of seats at three West Bank
The Fatah-affiliated Martyr Yasser Arafat bloc won 25 of the 51
student council seats at Bir Zeit University, giving it full control
over the body.
The Hamas-affiliated al-Wafa list took 19 seats.
At Bethlehem University, Fatah supporters won 18 seats, while Hamas’s
Watan bloc got 13.
In addition, Fatah lists won elections for professional and workers
unions in Lebanon, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
The victories are seen by Fatah as a vote of confidence in Abbas and
the faction’s policies and strategy.
Fatah also views the results as a major blow to Hamas and other
opposition groups that are critical of Abbas and his ruling faction
in the West Bank.
Tensions between Abbas and Fayyad intensified after the latter
refused to deliver the PA president’s letter to Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu two weeks ago.
Fatah officials in the West Bank have since stepped up pressure on
Abbas to dismiss Fayyad and appoint a Fatah figure as head of a new
“President Abbas is facing growing pressure to replace Fayyad with a
Fatah prime minister,” said a source close to the PA president. “The
recent victories that Fatah scored in university elections show that
Fatah continues to enjoy the support of a majority of Palestinians.”
Fayyad, who is not a member of Fatah, heads a list called Third Way
that won only two seats in the January 2006 parliamentary election.
Fayyad’s refusal to deliver the letter to Netanyahu deeply
embarrassed Abbas, said a Fatah official in Ramallah.
In a bid to ease tensions, Abbas and Fayyad met for three hours last
Tuesday, the official added. The official refused to say whether the
two men managed to solve the crisis during the meeting, which he
described as “friendly and positive.”
The dispute between Abbas and Fayyad also revolves around the PA
president’s declared intention to carry out a cabinet reshuffle, the
According to the Fatah official, Abbas faces pressure from his
supporters to take away the Finance Ministry from Fayyad.
Western donor countries have warned Abbas not to remove Fayyad or cut
his powers, a Western diplomat based in Israel told The Jerusalem
Post last week. The diplomat said the donors have made it clear to
Abbas that any measure against Fayyad would affect international
funding for the PA.
“Fatah’s recent victories are a sign of widespread public support for
President Abbas and Fatah,” said Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf. “This
is a vote of confidence in Fatah, President Abbas and the entire
leadership of the Palestinian people.”
Assad said that Hamas’s defeat, on the other hand, was an indication
of the movement’s failure in various fields. He added that
contradictory statements by Hamas, especially regarding “resistance
attacks” against Israel, were also behind the decline in the
“On the one hand, Hamas talks about the need to continue the
resistance,” he pointed out.
“But on the other hand, Hamas is not doing anything to resist the
Palestinian political columnist Adel Abdel Rahman dismissed Hamas
claims about forgery in the recent elections for universities,
colleges and professional unions.
“Hamas’s claims are the product of bankruptcy in defending their
defeat and failure,” Abdel Rahman explained. “Hamas is lacking
credibility among Palestinians and the easiest way is to resort to
forging the facts and inciting.”
Abdel Rahman and many Palestinians said that the results of the
elections were a “victory for Fatah and its political and national
Hamas and its supports said the Fatah victories were the result of a
security clampdown by the PA and Israel on students in various West
“How can true representative elections be free when each and every
student voting for the Islamic bloc could immediately be arrested and
dumped behind bars for open-ended incarceration?” asked Palestinian
journalist and analyst Khaled Amayreh, who is a staunch opponent of
“The fear is not phobic or unfounded. Dozens of student leaders have
already been arrested by the Israeli army for taking part in student
activities supportive of the Islamic bloc. A student who wanted to
vote for the Islamist bloc would have to be mindful of the risks and
implications awaiting him, including administrative detention in
Israeli jails, or prolonged detention in PA jails, or both.”
Hani Muqbel, a Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said that supporters
of his movement in the West Bank have found themselves “between the
Israeli anvil and Palestinian Authority anvil.”
The PA security forces, he said, banned Hamas supporters from holding
pre-election rallies on university campuses and summoned student
leaders for interrogation.
Hamas legislator Fathi Qarawi said that Hamas’s mere participation in
the university elections was a “positive sign and a challenge to the
Palestinian Authority security forces and Israel.” He said that
Fatah’s attempt to depict the results of the elections as a major
defeat for Hamas were “nonsense (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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