Salam Fayyad, "enemy of Hamas", visits Gaza

Salam Fayyad, "enemy of Hamas", visits Gaza
3 min read
02 December, 2015
Former Palestinian Prime Minister unexpectedly visits Gaza for the first time in eight years, in it what may be a turning point in relationships between the two sides.
Salam Fayyad visits Gaza for the first time since 2007 [Getty]
Former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is currently visiting Gaza, at the invitation of Hamas leader, Ahmed Youssef.  

It is the first time Fayyad has visited the beseiged coastal strip since Hamas came into power in Gaza in 2007. 

Youssef said that Fayyad was invited by the House of Wisdom foundation in order to "present his vision for Palestinian reconciliation."

Fayyad met with Youssef and other Palestinian political leaders in Gaza, including Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine member Jamil Mejdawali yet a scheduled meeting with Islamic Jihad and Hamas has reportedly been postponed.

Hamas and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority have been divided since Hamas were elected to power in 2006.

Ensuing fighting saw Fatah largely routed out of the Gaza Strip, and Hamas largely shut down in the West Bank - leaving the bitter rivals in charge of the separate territories.  

Further dissent appeared and splits within Fatah, between the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas and his rival Mohammad Dahlan rose to the surface.

Youssef told al-Araby al-Jadeed last month that he supported internal Fatah reconciliation in what could be a sign of certain levels of cooperation between certain factions of Hamas and the former security chief in Gaza.

"Of course this [fatah reconciliation] will benefit us as Palestinians, and Hamas in particular - instead of [Mahmoud Abbas] having full control of the movement… it will build Palestinian institutions," Youssef said.

However, sources in Gaza said that although Fayyad asked to meet with Hamas leaders during his visit, this request has been turned down.

Salam Fayyad, resigned as Prime Minister in 2013 after reported disputes with Abbas, and earlier this year had his assets frozen, which many speculated was due to his connections with Dahlan.

In December last year, a Palestinian TV host accused former PLO legislative chief Abed Rabbo, Dahlan and Fayyad of meeting in secret with the US secretary of state, John Kerry, in the UAE.

Fayyad ran the "Future for Palestine" development institute, which had funds of about $1.6m frozen during a lawsuit involving accusations of money laundering.

The PA-driven investigation into the NGO has been continuing since last year, when sources told Haraatz that this was due to alleged funding by the UAE, with whom Abbas has difficult relations due to their support for Dahlan.

During Fayyad’s visit on Wednesday, Fatah spokesperson Osama al-Qawasmi said that the former Prime Minister "does not represent any part of Palestinian society." 

Fayyad had good relations with western governments, overseeing development and modernization projects in the West Bank, and, along with Dahlan, has been mentioned as a potential successor to Abbas.

Yet although his economic reforms made him popular in the West, they earned him criticism from Palestinians.

Many Gazans took the visit as an opportunity to remind people of the salary freezes he implemented for government employees, and criticized his government's record of security coordination with Israel.

"Salam Fayyad is not welcome in Gaza…he reinforces divisions and cuts salaries", said one Gazan.

"Fayyad was once a number one spy…now he received a hero’s welcome," said Hussain, another Gazan activist.