Who Wants To Be Prime Minister? Not Rami Hamdallah
Maysoon Zayid with some ideas about how Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas should choose his next prime minister.
Rami Hamdallah has left the building. A mere 18 days into his new gig as Palestine's Prime Minister, Hamdallah handed Mahmoud Abbas his resignation citing irreconcilable differences. The newly appointed PM’s love affair with the Palestinian Authority lasted only a quarter of the length of Kim Kardashian’s marriage, to that random basketball player she exploited pre-Kanye, before it fell to pieces.
Hamdallah’s Twitter feed mirrored his tumultuous reign. On June 4, 2013, Salam Fayyad’s successor posted his first Tweet as Prime Minister of Palestine. Using the handle @PalestineGov, he exuberantly tweeted, “Welcome! This is my official Twitter account. Rami Hamdallah, Prime Minister of Palestine.” But this fairytale does not have a happy ending. It also doesn’t have any pages in the middle because just a little over two weeks later @PalestineGov sent out this shocking second Tweet, “I offered my resignation to the President of the PA. Official notes will be released soon. R.H.” The End.
Earlier this month, when Mahmoud Abbas announced that Dr. Rami Hamdallah would be filling Salam Fayyad’s abandoned Crocs, there was one word was on everyone’s lips, “Who?” Hamdallah, at the time of his appointment, was virtually invisible on the political scene. Pretty much all that was known about this elusive character was that he was the dean of Najah University in Nablus, he boasted an impressive, very long, academic resume, and was rumored to have been part of Arafat’s posse. Political commentators praised Hamdallah’s academic achievements while quickly labeling him a Yes-Man. The assumption was that Abbas had learned his lesson from six years of battling Salam Fayyad, as he battled corruption, and this time had chosen someone who would roll over and play PM.
Rami Hamdallah quickly proved that he is no lap dog, when he quit all over social media. There are a couple of theories swirling as to why he threw in the towel. Some believe this was all a ploy by the Dean to pad his resume. Academics are extremely competitive and what looks better than the words, "Prime Minister" on your CV? The more likely scenario is that from the moment he assumed the position, Hamdallah realized that this ship was sinking and that was exactly what the inner circle wanted. They didn't want to brainstorm solutions and they didn't want to bale water. They wanted to pretend they had a plan and have the new PM play along. Dr. Hamdallah did what any thinking person would do: he jumped ship.
Abbas is now sleeping single in a double bed and there are no whispers—yet—as to who will fill the black hole left by Rami Hamdallah peacing out. Here are some options. Abu Mazen could do something original for once in his life and appoint a woman—and not just any woman, a Christian woman. Why not appoint Hanan Ashrawi as Prime Minister? She certainly has the political chops. She’s an independent like Fayyad was and it would be nice for the PA to have a non-male and/or non-Muslim Palestinian in a prominent leadership role.
If he is not willing to do something that groundbreaking, why not just appoint the other prime minister. I’m not sure if Abbas knows about this but there’s a guy from Hamas, named Ismail Haniyeh, who fancies himself Prime Minister. Appointing Haniyeh would be the perfect first step toward the unity government they’ve both supposedly been desperately seeking. Not ready to kiss and make up with Hamas? There is always the Weekend at Bernie’s option. It is obvious that the PA wants a puppet, so all they need to do is find someone who is recently deceased and therefore has no opinion of their own, to reanimate. Abbas and his boy Saeb Erekat could flank the cadaver in the upcoming meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry and have it say and do as they wish.
Abbas could opt to skip the theatrics and appoint himself prime minister. He’s already the head of the PLO and the President of the PA, so why not add Prime Minister to the mix? He could be a triple-threat. Abu Mazen does not play well with others and although he swears he wants an independent in the PM position, it seem obvious that what he really wants is a beck-and-call boy. Therefore, he should either take the position himself, or do what Liberace did and find someone who’s willing to be recreated in his image.
In his short stint as PM, Rami Hamdallah failed to connect with the young folk or the old folk or any folk, really. His now infamous Twitter account has a measly 186 followers. Palestinians are notoriously awful at PR and the Hamdallah debacle is no exception. Abbas needs to save face by appointing someone with charisma, someone who can give the Palestinian Authority, and more importantly the Palestinian cause, a much needed make over. Justin Bieber is the perfect guy for the job. If Abu Mazen chooses the Biebs as his second in command, the Palestinians will inherit the Beliebers. Justin comes complete with an army of 40 million obsessed, lovable, loyal fans and they can all be ours. Imagine 40 million Beliebers cheering on the Palestinian call for equality and chanting, "Free Palestine," as they devoutly follow their leader, Prime Minister Bieber.
Abbas has made it crystal clear he is anti-election; but it would be nice if he did at least try to somehow involve the Palestinian population in choosing the next prime minister. Why not use the Arab Idol format that recently inspired so many Palestinians to exercise their right to vote and run up their phone bills? Each week the contestants for PM can wow the viewers with their economic plan and job creation solutions. The people could then vote via text message, just like they did for Mohammad Assaf, who should definitely one of the contenders for PM, since he has proven his power to unite the masses.
If Arab Idol is not his cup of tea, there are other competition show formats Abbas could rip off in his quest to find Palestine's next PM. He could fly in Donald Trump and have him host a spin off called Prime Minister Apprentice. It'd be nice for a change to see the prime ministers fired rather than resigning. The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise format could also work beautifully. Mahmoud would start with 25 potential prime ministers vying for the honor of being chosen PM. At the end of each episode, instead of handing out roses, Abbas could throw rocks at those no longer in the running. Palestinians glued to their TV sets and laptops could watch live as Abu Mazen beaned the first runner up and the last PM standing was sworn in.
For now Rami Hamdallah's abandoned throne remains empty and the Palestinian leadership remains woefully divided. As Hamas and Fatah fight over breadcrumbs, Israel continues to "build, build, build" and the Palestinian remain caged, with little hope that whoever inherits the @PalestineGov handle will be any more effective than the last guy.