Report: Meeting Between Palestinian President, PM Postponed Due to European, U.S. Pressure

Palestinian officials say the U.S. is unwilling to discuss the option of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's resignation, in spite of his long-standing differences with President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian sources in Ramallah have reported that the meeting scheduled to take place on Thursday between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was postponed due to European and American pressure.

According to sources, the Americans are not willing to discuss the option of removing Fayyad from his position of Prime Minister.

Earlier this week there were conflicting reports about Fayyad's political future, with some sources claiming Wednesday that he had offered his resignation to Abbas following a rift between the two men over government policy.

European diplomatic sources reported that the West has expressed reservations regarding the political inner workings of the Palestinian Authority, as U.S Secretary of State John Kerry and the European Union are trying to bring about a new round of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

According to those same sources, removing Fayyad from his position could have a negative effect on donations and funding to the Palestinian Authority.

Sources also claimed that Abbas cannot lead a new government without provisional agreements for a settlement with Hamas. Only then would such a move receive both Palestinian and wider Arab support. Any attempt to form a new government with a Fatah loyalist at its head would be rejected, sources said.

When he visited the West Bank last month, U.S. President Barack Obama explicitly described both Abbas and Fayyad as "true partners" in a peace process that he hopes to revive between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the coming months.

Kerry also met Fayyad this week during a visit to Jerusalem in an apparent show of support for the beleaguered prime minister.

Speaking earlier on Wednesday about the rumors of a division between Fayyad and Abbas, a senior diplomat in Jerusalem said Western aid donors would be very upset to see the respected prime minister leave his post.

"Fayyad's departure would have a serious impact on relations with the international community," said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It is hard to overstate how important Fayyad has been."

The diplomat added that Fayyad's institution-building drive in the West Bank had been "the single best thing" that had happened in the Palestinian territories in recent years, adding that the premier was also highly trusted by Israeli leaders.

Fayyad's close ties with the West have irritated senior Fatah officials, who have accused him of trying to build an unassailable powerbase, despite the fact that he had no significant political support amongst ordinary Palestinians.

The Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has repeatedly accused Fayyad of helping Israel to blockade its coastal territory and has never recognized him.

Fayyad spent two days in hospital earlier this month after suffering severe stomach pains. He had a heart attack in 2011.

AFP