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Palestinian PM Proposes State within 2 Years

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has urged his compatriots to believe in their state-to-be, arguing that building it in two years, even under Israeli occupation, is not implausible. In an interview with the Beirut's influential daily AN NAHAR on Sept. 5, he denied that a blueprint to this effect, which includes detailed economic scheming, matched the "economic peace" that Israel has proposed to the Palestinians instead of a full-fledged state. The blueprint, which intends to bypass failing Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and establish a de facto Palestinian state within two years, came after the Palestinian Authority (PA) felt dismayed with the talks, Fayyad told AN NAHAR. "We're worried about a negotiation process that hasn't achieved anything in 16 years," he added, referring to the talks that followed the 1993 Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement. "The plan is meant to establish a Palestinian state as part of a political process to avoid a situation where the negotiations would continue without a sign that occupation will inevitably end and the full rights of the Palestinians will be preserved," he said. "Ending the occupation has prerequisites. The document will give birth to detailed plans to upgrade the infrastructures--roads, airports, ports, railroads, water and power supplies, communications, security, development, education, healthcare, the rule of law and social welfare," he added.

The blueprint differs from development plans proposed by donor countries and the International Quartet, which comprises the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia and works on rekindling the peace process, Fayyad told AN NAHAR's Mohammed Hawwash. "It's in line with the 1988 announcement of Palestinian independence (by the Palestinian parliament in exile) in Algiers, and is meant to establish a progressive, modern state. This is why it's different," he said. "It's a guarantee for us against Israel's economic peace proposal because we're not talking about development for the sake of development," he added. "For the first time, a Palestinian government has a detailed plan for each of its ministries. This is taking place 10 years after the end of the transitional period (stipulated by the 1993 Oslo peace agreement), while nothing yet seems clear," he said.

The government is doing its job in this regard because it is the executive arm of the PA in implementing the policies devised by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state, Fayyad said. "We can't wait for the state to come into being then start establishing its institutions. The document also strips Israel of its claim that it doesn't have a Palestinian partner to talk to, or that such a partner is weak or incapable," he said. "The PLO is the authority for the affairs of Palestinians at home or abroad. The PLO's Central Council created the PA, and its Executive Committee--in which I'm a member, being the prime minister--is aware of the government's plans in this regard," he added. "The document strengthens the PLO's negotiation efforts, which seek to end the occupation, and will succeed in doing so if the right conditions are there," he said. "And such conditions will be there, God willing."

Israel and Hamas

Commenting on Israel's recent rejection of the document as amounting to a unilateral action, Fayyad said, "It's definitely unilateral but in the positive sense because it is in line with (Palestinian-Israeli) agreements and the international law," arguing that the establishment of a Palestinian state is the goal of the whole peace process. "On the other hand, Israel's construction of settlements and a separation wall (in the West Bank) amount to a negative unilateral action because it contradicts the solution (to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict) that the whole international community has adopted," he told AN NAHAR. "Since the launching of the peace process (in 1991), we have repeatedly heard that a fully-sovereign Palestinian state should be established on the Palestinian territories that Israel occupied in 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital ... We need to believe that such a state can be built and that occupation can be lifted ... Such a state will come into being if we believe in it," he said. He welcomed the document's discussion by militant Hamas, which calls the PA illegitimate and runs a de facto rival authority in Gaza. "They said the document carries possibilities, and this proves that all Palestinians want a state to come into being," he said.
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Publication:The Weekly Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Sep 19, 2009
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