Ghassan Khatib
Bitterlemons (Opinion)
March 15, 2010 - 12:00am

The program of the 13th Palestinian government, entitled "Ending the Occupation and Establishing the State", might have been similar to the programs of previous governments were it not for its political context.

The two-year program, which has become known as the Fayyad Plan, is meant to prepare the ground for statehood through the necessary developments and improvements in building the institutions of a state. The plan gained political momentum, first on the international level, because it was received as a possible alternative to the decaying peace process.

The announcement of the plan also coincided with a presentation by the EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, who, in a lecture in England, said that if the peace process did not succeed in securing a two-state solution, the international community should encourage and recognize a Palestinian state declared in a UN resolution, in order to realize the international community's vision of peace based on two states.

Later, growing segments of the Palestinian public and prominent individuals began to rally behind the plan. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad helped this process on by engaging in extensive field visits to reach the grassroots. The plan, indeed, includes a blueprint for the development, institution-building and reform not only of the urban areas the Oslo accords allow the Palestinian Authority to function in, but also the rest of the occupied territories including area C and marginalized areas particularly affected by Israeli settlement expansion and/or separation wall construction.

In addition, the prime minister and his government ministers took part in demonstrations and the popular resistance and lent moral support to the right of Palestinians to peacefully resist those Israeli measures that only serve to consolidate the occupation, whether through settlement construction or the building of the separation wall.

What has significantly added to Palestinian and international confidence in the plan is that it came after the impressive success of the previous Fayyad government in reforming the law and order sector, both in terms of the security forces themselves and the congruent civilian legal structure. Based on progress in providing due process of law, an improvement in the economy followed that last week allowed Fayyad to present a budget for this year that includes seven percent GDP growth.

The main importance of the Fayyad plan is that it allows Palestinians to move toward achieving the objectives of ending the Israeli occupation and establishing their state on two parallel tracks. The first is in actual developments on the ground where the Palestinian government has been taking positive steps readying Palestinians for statehood, not only in their own eyes but also in the eyes of the international community, which has been financing these efforts.

The second track is the complementary effort on the international level to build support for international recognition of an independent Palestinian state that can be enshrined in a United Nations Security Council resolution at the end of these two years and without Israeli consent if Israel continues to prevent bilateral negotiations from reaching fruition. There have been a number of significant developments in this regard, not least the European Council of Foreign Ministers statement on December 8, which was never objected to or criticized by the US.

In this way the government plan has been an important part of the overall four-pillar strategy of the PA: the reform and/or building of institutions of state; the effort to convince the international community to recognize, in due time, such a state multilaterally; fighting Israel on the international legal arena and supporting the right of popular movements to peacefully resist the Israeli occupation.

Ghassan Khatib is coeditor of the bitterlemons family of internet publications and director of the Government Media Center. This article represents his personal views.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017