Friday, July 13, 2007
The new Palestinian government appears to be treading on very thin ice
By Khaled Amayreh from Ramallah
"Is Salam Fayyad a political amateur? Well, his behaviour during the course of the past three weeks would suggest he is.
Indeed, ever since the "coup" in Gaza on 14 June, which generated another "coup" in Ramallah a few days later, Fayyad, the appointed prime minister of the Ramallah-based government has been striving to be everybody's man, except for Hamas, of course.
He has been telling the Israelis that he will "change the reality" in the West Bank and eradicate "terror" and "fight Hamas" as nobody has ever done before.
Meanwhile, he has told the Americans that he is their man in Palestine and that he will seek to implement George Bush's disingenuous vision of two states.....
Of course, while Fayyad's assessment of Hamas may have some superficial rationality, the thrust of his perception is wrong. After all, Israel and the PLO negotiated for close to 15 years in the absence of Hamas, and all the Palestinians got were more Jewish settlements on their occupied land, more roadblocks and checkpoints, a hateful apartheid wall built in the heartland of the West Bank, and the diminishing chance for peace......
Fayyad, who is an independent and has no base support amongst Palestinians, is trying to play the tough guy, mainly to please and appease the West and Israel. However, his ability to effect change on the ground is very limited, indeed......
This week, lawyers and jurists who wrote the interim Palestinian constitution have said that Abbas exceeded his powers when he appointed the new emergency cabinet. Anis Al-Qassem and Eugene Cotran, who began drafting the Basic Law more than a decade ago, said it "gave Abbas the power to dismiss Haniya but did not allow him to appoint a new government without parliamentary approval." Al-Qasem and Cotran explained that the Basic Law makes it clear that Haniya's unity cabinet should remain the caretaker administration until Abbas secured parliamentary approval for a new government.
Ahmed El-Khaldi, a law professor who also worked on drafts of the Basic Law, said he was concerned Palestinian democracy was "in retreat". Two weeks ago, El-Khaldi was briefly abducted by armed militiamen loyal to Fatah.
Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Abbas, Fayyad and their cohorts will be willing to heed the rule of law in this regard as they rely first and foremost on the power of the fait accompli......"