Haviv Rettig
The Jerusalem Post
February 19, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told visiting American Jewish leaders on Thursday that IDF incursions into Palestinian population centers “need to stop.”

While “there is interest on both sides” in promoting Palestinian development and progressing toward statehood, Israel’s military operations in PA-controlled areas “not only run operational risks, but they undermine our credibility and standing. We need actions taken by the Israelis to be consistent with the notion of a state in evolution,” Fayyad said.

Israeli incursions, he said, “[put] the whole enterprise at risk.”

Fayyad spoke in Jenin to a delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which is in Israel this week for an annual meeting. He is credited by Israel, the United States and other observers with enabling rapid economic growth in the West Bank and a dramatic improvement in governance and security.

Fayyad was upbeat in the meeting, according to participants.

“There is a sense of hope and possibility about the future,” he said. “Things are beginning to happen, and with each achievement, empowerment, we can translate our objectives to reality.”

Improvement has been felt in the fields of security, governance and education, and “we have electricity in 90 percent of places,” Fayyad told the group. The PA has reached this point “out of a sheer determination for us to get it right this time,” he added.

“A lot has changed for the better. [Things] seemed hopeless in the past. But [now] I see hope in people’s eyes. I see people smile. I see unity of purpose.”

Fayyad went on to say that the PA wants “a progressive state, democratic, which doesn’t tolerate discrimination, which is open, culturally sensitive – including to our Israeli neighbors.”

One of the key challenges going forward will be unifying the Fatah-run West Bank with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, he said. “We want to reunify our country. The challenge in Gaza is enormous. But we need [Gaza] to have a state and stay in a lasting state of peace.”

While the PA works to improve the lot of Palestinians “bottom-up,” it needs “a political process that reaches the point where occupation itself ends,” Fayyad said.


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