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Abbas and Fayyad should resign too - Fadi Elsalameen

Feb. 15, 2011 1:07 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 20, 2011 8:45 P.M.)
After two decades of failed political moves, the Palestinian Authority represented by its top leadership is hoping to avoid the inevitable: paying a heavy price for corruption of all kinds, alienating the Palestinian people, and failing to negotiate an end to Israel’s occupation.

Threatened and undermined by Al-Jazeera's Palestine papers series, and dismayed by wrongly siding with Egypt’s ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak, the Palestinian Authority is employing desperate political maneuvers.

President Abbas has asked his chief negotiator and cabinet in the West Bank to submit their resignations. He has also called for local and presidential elections by September and deliberately avoided setting a date.

Will Abbas and Salam Fayyad succeed in appeasing Palestinian anger through these desperate maneuvers? No. Nothing short of Abbas and Fayyad handing in their own resignations and accepting responsibility for their failures will satisfy the Palestinian street.

With fewer allies in the region and no options left for a political horizon with Israel, Abbas and Fayyad must resign to pave the way for a newly elected and more representative Palestinian leadership.

Abbas and Fayyad have no political capital left to spend, they are out of touch with the Palestinian street, and they have successfully managed to alienate even supporters within Fatah.

Their failures politically have discredited them and the Palestinian Authority both at home and abroad.

At home, they are seen as corrupt, ineffective, and above all as Israel’s agents. The people do not trust them. That superb security coordination with Israel is all they have to offer after years of failed negotiations alienated even the younger guard in Fatah, Abbas’ base.

Fatah’s young guard is also disappointed in Abbas for failing to rebuild their movement and giving Fayyad the chance to further undermine their effectiveness in the West Bank.

Abbas has yet to promote Fatah’s young in taking active leadership roles. To many in Fatah, Abbas is the Gorbachev of the movement that has actively played a part in dismantling it and making it weaker. For a long time, he refused to replace Fayyad with a prime minister from Fatah and allowed Fayyad to claim credit for Fatah’s political concessions to Israel.

Abroad, especially in the Arab and Muslim world, Abbas and Fayyad placed themselves on the wrong side of history. Fayyad, Abbas and aides like Tayeb Abdel Rahim expressed strong and public support for Mubarak.

The Palestinian leadership not only echoed Israel’s line which was sorry to see Mubarak leave, but also showed Arabs and Muslims -- glued to their televisions watching Al-Jazeera in support of the revolution -- that this is a leadership that has nothing in common with them.

Why would anyone support such leadership for the Palestinians? If anything, Abbas and Fayyad’s actions confirm this is a leadership that is only capable of one bad decision after another. They must all resign and accept responsibility for their failures.

Abbas and Fayyad are of a past era. They no longer represent the future we young Palestinians seek. Rather, we see them through the lens of withering and illegitimate Arab regimes which, if not replaced democratically, will be toppled through a popular revolution that I can assure them has already begun.

Fadi Elsalameen is a fellow with the New America Foundation’s American Strategy Program.
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