Ziad Asali's Introductory Remarks for Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's Keynote Address
ATFP's Sixth Annual Gala
October 19, 2011

Mr. Prime Minister,

Welcome to Washington, a town you know so well, and one which holds you in the highest esteem. You are among friends here in this room and in this city.

We are honored and gratified that you have agreed to be the keynote speaker at this evening's Sixth Annual ATFP Gala and welcome you, your wife Bashayer and your sons Khaled and Abdallah.

Your journey from academic economist, to international officer in multilateral institutions, to government minister, and finally to becoming a world-renowned statesman is simply extraordinary.

Since President Mahmoud Abbas appointed you as Prime Minister in 2007, you have led the implementation of the policies that you whole-heartedly supported: the pursuit of peace and self-empowerment.

You and your work exemplify the understanding that Palestinians need to empower themselves and build a state that reflects not only their right to independence and statehood, but also one which reflects and nurtures their values and the best elements of their culture. Nobody can deny the Palestinian right to have a state, but as they seek independence and freedom from occupation, it is up to the Palestinians themselves to determine what kind of a state it will be, and what they alone can do to shape their future.

Your visionary work in leading this profound effort has been inspirational. The Palestinians face a historically unique challenge as they strive to build a state under occupation. There is no manual or model to emulate.

Palestinians have had to come up with a solution to that conundrum and stay focused on what kind of society they want, and you have been central to that all-important task.

First as Finance Minister and then as Prime Minister you have developed a transparent and accountable system of public finance. During a period of global recession, you have overseen a period of remarkable economic growth while reducing dependence on foreign aid.

Under your leadership, Palestinian security forces have restored law and order in those parts of the West Bank under Palestinian Authority control and significantly reduced crime and violence. You have demonstrated that no matter how adverse the circumstance may be, the Palestinian people have the creativity and tenacity to shape their own fate.

Your career and especially your term in office as Prime Minister demonstrate the wisdom of the adage that nothing succeeds like success. Your effectiveness and transparent governance have elevated you from a  technocrat to a national leader who enjoys extraordinary support among the Palestinian public.

In September 2010, the World Bank issued a report stating that the Palestinian Authority is "well-positioned to establish a state at any time in the near future." This assessment was reiterated by the IMF, and, last month, by the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee of international donors.

The Palestinians deserve a state that embodies the best values of freedom, pluralism, good governance, the rule of law, democracy and pluralism.  There is no doubt that this can be achieved with an energized Palestinian public, a supportive international community, and through diligent, competent and transparent leadership.

Mr. Prime Minister, Palestinian Americans are a thriving and hard working community that has built an impressive record of achievement in our country.  We will never tire of supporting Palestine till it reaches independence and we will continue to support the state once it is established. We understand the organic link between freedom and reform that motivated the Arab people to mobilize and sacrifice for change.  

Your entire public record of service, Mr Prime Minister, is a quest for freedom and a commitment to reform. One cannot be sustained without the other.

The pursuit of peace, independence and reform is not a project for cowards. We are honored to welcome a man of courage, principle and conviction.   Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for being with us here tonight.


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