Is Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on his way out? Jonathan Tobin certainly seems to think so. In a blog post for Commentary, where he is the editor, he posits that Fayyad’s approach to governance and to foreign affairs places him outside the Palestinian mainstream.
Citing Fayyad’s comments in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle of London, Tobin writes, “With this sort of a platform, he’d probably have an easier time getting elected to the Knesset than to the Palestinian parliament.”
Trouble is, Tobin offers no evidence of Fayyad’s unpopularity among his people and in fact, recent polling shows the opposite.
The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research polled public opinion in the West Bank and Gaza in June, after a reconciliation agreement had been announced between Hamas and Fatah. Among the findings: in a choice between Fatah’s candidate, Fayyad, and Hamas’s candidate, Jamal Khodari, 45% of the public favored Fayyad and only 22% favored Khodari. Plus, a clear majority of 61% of those polled wanted a new Palestinian government to follow the peace policies and agendas of Fatah and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, rather than follow Hamas’s agenda.
In my own recent interview with Fayyad, he certainly sounded like a man who was determined to stay in office. But many things could change that situation, including actions the Israeli government could take to strengthen Fayyad, or not.
Of course, it’s more convenient for those who want to continue to delay Israel’s genuine acceptance of an independent Palestinian state to argue that there’s no partner for peace, or that a figure like Fayyad — who is respected even in the Netanyahu government — is not supported by his own people. It just may not be true.