Salam Fayyad has become a key figure in the Palestinian political elite, an independent, international figure who has a Texas University Economics Phd, and spells at the World Bank and IMF behind him.He began his political life in his homeland as finance minister, nominated by Yasser Arafat in 2002, and winning trust from the international community for his anti-corruption drive and economic reforms. But by 2005 this liberal had had enough of working within Fatah, the leading Palestinian faction, and resigned to set up a new party, the Third Way. Fayyad and the redoubtable Hanane Ashrawi were both elected in January the following year. Then the crisis erupted between Fatah and Hamas, with Hamas beating Fatah in elections in the Gaza strip. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh became prime minister, and Fayyad, mocked by Hamas as the “American accountant”, was out, but when Fatah and Hamas attempted a unity government he was back as finance minister in March 2007. When this collapsed and Fatah was expelled violently from Gaza, beyond President Mahmoud Abbas’s control, Abbas decided to form a new government for the Palestinian authority in the West Bank. He dissolved the Haniyeh-led government, and invited Fayyad to become prime minister in June of that year.