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Monday, May 9, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Abbas bows to West, agrees to keep Fayad as PM of unity government

RAMALLAH — Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, under heavy Western pressure, has agreed to retain Salam Fayad as prime minister of any Fatah-Hamas government.


Officials said Abbas intends to keep Fayad as prime minister under a government with Hamas despite opposition from both Hamas and Fatah.

They said Abbas was persuaded by U.S. and European Union leaders that Fayad was vital to maintain Western confidence in the PA, Middle East Newsline reported.

"Objectively, Salam Fayad should head the coming Palestinian government," Jamal Muhaisen, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said. "He should be there as a head of the Palestinian cabinet in the coming stage. This is a Palestinian vital interest."

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Officials said Abbas had been considering replacing Fayad as prime minister, opposed by both Fatah and Hamas.

They said Abbas has already informed the Fatah leadership of his choice of Fayad.

"Fayad's candidacy is currently under discussion between the various Palestinian factions," Muhaisen said.

Officials said Abbas has stressed that neither Fayad nor his Cabinet would deal with Israel or negotiate for an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank. They said the PA chairman has assigned these issues to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

"The new unity government will not have anything to do with the peace process which will be solely handled by the PLO and the heads of the various Palestinian political parties and factions," Muhaisen, in an interview with the Abu Dhabi-based Gulf News, said.

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