Michael Tobin
Fox News (Blog)
November 23, 2009 - 1:00am

The proposals of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salem Fayyad seem simple and obvious from a Western Perspective; build the institutions of a working Palestinian government first, make the move for statehood second. However, coming from a population that has focused for decades on the conflict with Israel, his proposals are radical.

But this is the concept that Fayyad is now preaching as he travels through Israeli checkpoints to reach the little towns and villages in the West Bank. In these villages, the Palestinian population has lost faith in a failed peace process that has gotten them nothing but continued Israeli settlement construction on land that they want for a future state. “This is about rallying people around a cause that actually gets them to feel good about themselves,” he tells me, “Feel good about the future. To instill a sense of hope and possibility after decades of despair and tragedy.”

During our talk, it seemed Fayyad could not find enough ways to emphasize the importance of building viable national institutions, which could provide services to the citizens of a future Palestine. “What we are doing here is actually delivering on our end of the bargain, building our own state,” he said.

The concepts become more fresh and new as he calls on the Palestinian population to abandon violence in their quest for statehood. “This is not about violence. It is about creating positive facts on the ground consistent with building toward statehood,” he says, carefully choosing his words so he doesn’t sound like he is encouraging Palestinians to submit to their neighbor with the powerful army. “The highest form of resistance is actually engaging in a very serious, determined effort to create positive facts on the ground.”

Israelis fear that Fayyad is moving toward a unilateral declaration of statehood. If that were to be recognized, the legitimacy of Israeli settlements in the West Bank would come under greater scrutiny than they are today and put yet another contentious nation on Israel’s border. This threat prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say that a unilateral declaration would nullify all previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

Fayyad, however, said statehood will ultimately require a negotiated peace deal with Israel. He did reject Israel’s most recent proposal that calls for a temporary Palestinian state, final borders to be negotiated later. “What we are looking for, is to bring this interim period to an end.” He said, “bring this conflict to an end.” He also said the negotiations will need to leave Palestinians with the Jordan valley. That way an autonomous Palestine will have a border with Jordan as opposed to being surrounded by Israel.


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