This past weekend, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the resignation of Salam Fayyad, caretaker prime minister since June 2007. Abbas also asked Fayyad to stay on as caretaker — until a new caretaker prime minister could be found.
Why did all this make news? In a superficial sense, nothing had changed — at most, Palestine might eventually get a new caretaker prime minister. And despite the praise “Fayyadism” received from enthusiastic foreign supporters, there may be no change in a deeper sense as well.
The attention given to Fayyad’s departure obscures the fact that his state-building reform program had largely been in abeyance for two years. Even when it was in full swing — between 2009 and 2011 — Fayyad himself was expansive in tone, but his promises were carefully hedged when one read the fine print.
Nathan J. Brown