Fayyad Resigns as PA Prime Minister

RAMALLAH (Reuters) -

Palestinian officials and the United States voiced optimism on Sunday that the resignation of U.S.-backed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad would not hinder Washington’s planned development initiative for the Palestinian Authority.

Fayyad quit over the weekend after months of tension with President Mahmoud Abbas, leaving the Palestinian Authority in confusion just as the United States tries to revive peace talks with Israel.

His exit came less than a week after Secretary of State John Kerry visited and promised a plan to remove “bottlenecks and barriers” to economic development in the PA.

Kerry told reporters in Tokyo on Sunday the United States would pursue its initiative “no matter what” and that there is “more than one person that [the U.S.] can do business with.”

“We will continue to work at this and hope that President Abbas finds the right person to work with him in a transition and to work with us and to establish confidence,” Kerry said.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization official, said Fayyad’s resignation was internal politics and should have no bearing on Western efforts to boost the economy.

A poll in April put Fayyad’s approval rating at 25 percent, versus 49 percent for Abbas and 40 percent for Ismail Haniyeh, the Islamist Hamas leader in Gaza.

Despite Fayyad’s reputation for clean dealing in the West, 78 percent of PA residents perceived Palestinian Authority institutions to be corrupt, according to the same survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

“I’m glad he’s finally gone,” said Khaled Ashraf, a restaurateur in Ramallah. “Sure there was some growth, but it’s all done now, and just like usual the people aren’t better off.”