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April 15, 2013 10:34 am

Salam Fayyad Quits Palestinian Government, Adds Uncertainty to Peace Talks

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Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Photo: wiki commons.

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 a 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 Media Watch.

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.

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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 as U.S. President Barack Obama begins a new push 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.”

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