Israel Concerned: Fayyad becoming more extreme, and weakening Abu Mazen
Shlomo Cezana, Israel Hayom, April 30 2010
The political rivalry between Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad is causing the latter to become more extreme in his positions against Israel — this is the concern that was recently raised among various top political officials in Jerusalem.
Israel has discerned of late an intent by Fayyad to promote the possibility of his becoming Abu Mazen’s heir as PA chairman in the future, despite the fact that he doesn’t belong to Fatah. To this end, Fayyad has begun adopting a hard line toward Israel — despite the expectation that Abu Mazen will soon begin the proximity talks with Jerusalem.
Among other things, Fayyad recently refused to meet with Israeli political officials and even went to pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron as an act of opposition to its being declared a national heritage site. Another battle that Fayyad is leading is against the sale of products from the settlements in PA stores: Fayyad ordered that this be strictly enforced and he takes part in demonstrations where they burn Israeli products.
Israel is particularly concerned by the fact that Fayyad is considered moderate by the US and the West, and free of corruption. Furthermore, as finance minister, he is the main beneficiary of the PA’s economic growth.
Tomorrow the Arab League is expected to give Abu Mazen its blessing to hold negotiations with Israel. If it does, special US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is expected to start the proximity talks next week already. Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said yesterday, “we are close to renewing the talks.” In the course of a tour of the Druze town of Beit Jann, Shalom said, “it’s time that Abu Mazen sat down again with Israel and put an end to the idea that it is better to try and gain achievements through the US.”
Another deputy prime minister, Minister Bugi Yaalon, also related to the upcoming talks: “The Jordan Valley is the Land of Israel’s and the State of Israel’s eastern defense line and it must remain in any agreement,” he said at a ceremony in the Jordan Valley.