Over the weekend, I wrote about how the Palestinian Authority blew off John Kerry’s efforts to keep Salam Fayyad in power as Prime Minister. Kerry’s failure, I believe, “demonstrates once again the lack of U.S. influence over the PA” and the futility of our efforts to cause it to make any concessions to Israel.
As for Fayyad, I dismissed him a “PA pol.” But, plainly, that’s not how the U.S. and the EU view him. Otherwise, Kerry would not have worked so assiduously for his retention.
The U.S./EU view of Fayyad is shared by many Israelis, though not necessarily the Israeli government, which viewed him with ambivalence. The U.S./EU view is set forth in this tribute from Haaretz, a leftish Israeli newspaper:
The former International Monetary Fund economist was educated in the U.S. and was a symbol of good governance and the war on corruption. His plan to build Palestinian state institutions from the bottom up received much international support.
In Haaretz’s telling, PA President Abbas became jealous as Fayyad gained personal popularity on the West Bank. He then seized on an economic crisis — significant inflation coupled with increased unemployment — to oust his potential rival.
That may be so. But Fayyad is hardly the first prime minister to take the fall for bad economic times.
For Haaretz, Fayyad’s resignation has major negative implications for good governance on the West Bank, for the Obama administration’s efforts to broker a “peace” agreement, and for the future of EU aid to the PA.
Consider me skeptical. Indeed, I would be quite surprised if the EU discontinued its assistance to the PA. The EU is addicted to the PA, and Abbas knows it. He would not have accepted Fayyad’s resignation if he had thought that, in the end, it would stem the flow of European money.
As for good governance on the West Bank and a peace agreement, it is difficult to say which is the bigger chimera.
Judith Levy at Ricochet comes closer to the mark than Haaretz when she writes that Fayyad’s “image — an ex-IMF economist, US-educated, anti-corruption, distinguished, articulate — made the dubious narrative of the ‘peace process’ much easier to sell, since Abbas — the purported ‘man we can talk to’ — has long since lost any credibility.”
Accordingly, Fayyad’s resignation looks to me like the triumph, however short-lived, of realism (in the colloquial sense) over delusion in the Middle East. No wonder Kerry tried so hard to prevent it.