Fatah Officials to Abbas: Fire Fayyad

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Senior officials in the Palestinian Authority's Fatah faction called on P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas to fire Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, reports said.

The officials expressed their views in a letter delivered to Abbas on Saturday, but he "did not take it seriously," one Fatah official was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"We suggest you reconsider re-appointing Dr. Fayyad and ask that a strong Fatah figure do the job," the officials wrote in the letter shown to Reuters on Thursday. Fatah's central revolutionary council reportedly backed the letter.

According to the report, Fatah officials are frustrated with the power wielded by Fayyad, who controls the P.A.'s finances and security. They were also unhappy with Fayyad's recent offer to Hamas, the Palestinian faction controlling the Gaza Strip, to form a unity government. Hamas rejected the offer, calling Fayyad a "puppet of the West."

After Abbas dissolved the cabinet on February 14, he ordered Fayyad to form a new cabinet in preparation for legislative and presidential elections.

A short time later, Fayyad offered to meet with Hamas officials. "The split has been too long and should not continue and it won't end by itself," Fayyad reportedly said. "We need to move to end the split," he added.

The P.A. would like to hold legislative and presidential elections by September, but Hamas officials said reconciliation must take place first.

"Elections are not the magic solution to the Palestinian crisis," senior Hamas member Sami Abu Zuhri reportedly responded.

Exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal promised to evaluate the "new initiatives."

"We in Hamas and the resistance factions are keeping that in mind and will discuss our options," Meshaal said during opening ceremonies at a Palestinian heritage center outside Damascus, the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency reported.

Hamas' rejection of Fayyad is nothing new. Abbas appointed Fayyad prime minister after the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Within days after the coup, Abbas dissolved the newly formed unity coalition, formed an emergency government and replaced Ismail Haniyeh with Fayyad.

"He became prime minister in violation of Palestinian Basic Law," Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel said at the time. "His government never won the approval of the Palestinian Legislative Council," he said, calling Fayyad "a problematic figure."

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