Palestinian Authority officials followed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's "Palestine plan" speech closely Tuesday, but the focus of many of them strayed from the particulars to the man behind the plan.
Fatah sources were critical of the fact that it was Fayyad – who is not a member of Fatah – who made a speech that probably should have been made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Fayyad, they added, continues to try and position himself as a statesman instead of the head of the executive branch, thus seemingly laying claim to matters under the president's jurisdiction.
Fayyad's address was – officially speaking – fully coordinated with Abbas, but a senior source in Fatah's Central Committee said it would have been better had the chairman of the Palestinian Authority made it. Fatah is also adamant that a member of the Central Committee be named prime minister.
Fatah members may be wary of accusing Fayyad of trying to take over the PA's leadership outright, but other Palestinian factions were not as careful.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was quick to announce that declaring any such plan falls under the PLO's jurisdiction alone; while Hamas sources said the statement "was not worth the paper it was written on."
Fatah is nervously aware of the fact that many in the international community would like to see Fayyad become the next Palestinian president. After losing Gaza Strip to Hamas, the movement now realizes a new force may soon compromise its hegemony in the West Bank.
The Palestinian prime minister insists on keeping a low profile, although Tuesday's speech has brought him center stage not only as Palestinian Authority benefactors' favorite, but as a serious alternative for the PA's post-Abbas era.