Jerusalem, May 29 – An Israeli expert says the peace process is endangered by the expected dismissal of Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, disliked by both Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leaders, “because he is clean and incorrupt.”
A former top peace negotiator and advisor to Israeli leaders, Brig.Gen. (Res) Mike Herzog, told The Israel Project that new talks between Abbas’ Fatah party and the Iran backed Hamas terror group in Gaza would most likely mean the dismissal of Fayyad, popular with countries who have donated billions of dollars to shore up the Palestinian economy.
“He (Fayyad) represents something that is an anathema to them: laying foundations for statehood; rejecting armed resistance. He represents the opposite to their world view,” Herzog said. “Many people envy him because he is popular, but basically because he is clean (and) uncorruptable. A lot of people would like to bypass him and do other things.”
Herzog warned the international community would not sit idly by, and that Fayyad’s departure could threaten future economic support for the Palestinian Authority.
“One of the reasons people trust the PA is because they know that whatever funds they put in are in good hands. But if Fayyad goes it could certainly undermine international assistance because people are afraid, based on historical experiences of corruption in the PA – and there is a lot of corruption.”
Herzog added the international community is preoccupied with other issues that marginalize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The American elections, European money crises, and burning Middle East issues in Syria, Iran and Egypt means world leaders are distracted from the peace process.
“We need the international community to help the parties bridge over differences,” he said. “If you really want to do something serious between Israelis and Palestinians you need a pro-active international community much more than it is today.”
“People don’t understand all the nuances of the situation,” Herzog said. Despite Hamas allowing election officials into Gaza after years of refusal, he noted most people missed a new clause whereby Abbas could again defer elections in six months and form a unity government with Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in a bloody 2007 coup and rejects peace with Israel.
“Hamas doesn’t want elections because they are afraid to lose and they don’t want to give up their hold on power in Gaza,” Herzog said. “Abbas is not in love with elections because he already said that he is not standing for reelection. He would have to step down and he does not want to.”