U.S. minimizes impact of Fayyad resignation

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The United States said Monday that the Palestinian Authority and statehood aspirations were about more than one man, following the resignation of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Fayyad’s decision to quit following tension with president Mahmud Abbas provided a new complication for U.S. hopes of engineering a return to peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

White House spokesman Jay Carney described Fayyad, who met President Barack Obama late last month in Ramallah, as a leader in promoting “economic growth, state building and security for the Palestinian people.”

“While we greatly appreciate the work of Prime Minister Fayyad, it is important to remember that this is about the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

“It’s not about one person,” Carney said.

“These issues are bigger than any single individual and we are committed to moving forward with institution-building efforts in the West Bank and to working with both Palestinian and Israeli leaders in re-energizing the commitment to peace.”

Patrick Ventrell, a State Department spokesman, said that a successor for Fayyad, expected to stay on in a caretaker position, was up to Palestinians.

“There’s a swell of young and very educated Palestinians who are willing to rise to the challenge of improving the lot of all Palestinians,” he said.

Earlier, in Tokyo, Secretary of State John Kerry had expressed regret over Fayyad’s resignation and urged Abbas to find the right person to take on the tough job and work with Washington.

“Would I prefer that he weren’t leaving? Sure, because you have continuity,” he said, noting Fayyad had “made a huge difference” and expressing hope Abbas would find “the right person to work with him ... and to work with us, and establish confidence.”

Abbas accepted Fayyad’s resignation at a brief meeting at the Muqataa presidential compound in Ramallah.