* Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad hints Palestinian refugees can live in Palestine, not Israel
* Shimon Peres: Fayyad is the “Ben Gurion of Palestine”
* Ariel Sharon and Fayyad could be seen heartily chatting together into the night at a wedding near Tel Aviv
* While good progress is being made towards independence (so long as the Obama administration doesn’t ruin it), the infrastructure necessary to support a Palestinian state is far from ready. It is also unlikely that the Palestinian security forces are in a position yet to prevent Palestinian rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport from any West Bank state. Were such rockets to be fired or other terror attacks to occur, the premature establishment of a Palestinian state, as threatened by Fayyad, would likely lead to an immediate all-out war.
(This dispatch concerns Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.)
1. Hamas: Put Fayyad on trial
2. Compared to Arafat, he is Mother Theresa
3. The “Ben Gurion of Palestine”?
4. Buddies with Ariel Sharon
5. “We are not looking for a state of leftovers – a Mickey Mouse state”
6. Good progress, but don’t jump the gun
7. A lack of hard questions
8. Fayyad in Herzliya
9. “Fayyad may declare that Jewish quarter, Western Wall are in new Palestinian state”
10. PA purges educators suspected of having links to Hamas
11. Nabil Shaath: those damn Israelis won’t let us launch third intifada
12. “Palestinian PM to Ha’aretz: We will have a state next year” (By Akiva Eldar)
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
HAMAS: PUT FAYYAD ON TRIAL
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has called for Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to be tried for treason for comments he made last weekend to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.
In an interview with the paper, Fayyad said that he expects a Palestinian state to be established in 2011 alongside Israel, and that Palestinian refugees would be absorbed in that new state.
He expressly avoided saying that the descendants of Palestinian refugees should be absorbed into Israel itself. (To do so would be a political impossibility for any Israeli government since it would in effect turn Israel into a fourth Palestinian state, alongside majority- and historically-Palestinian populated Jordan, the new Fayad-led state of Palestine on the West Bank, and the Hamas-led Palestinian state in Gaza.) Hamas officials accused Fayyad of giving up the so-called Palestinian right of return to Israel.
“Fayyad is a person without legitimacy, who has stolen control in the West Bank and whose hands are contaminated with the suffering of thousands of martyrs in the West Bank,” Hamas officials said in a statement, referring as “martyrs” to those Hamas personnel dismissed or jailed by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. Fayyad himself is a political independent who has for the most part stayed clear of Fatah’s corrupt and brutal politics.
COMPARED TO ARAFAT, HE IS MOTHER THERESA
The interview Fayyad gave to Ha’aretz is attached at the end of this dispatch.
In a follow-up article on the interview, Ha’aretz mistakenly referred to Fayyad as the “Palestinian Authority President.” If only. He is in fact Palestinian Prime Minister and doesn’t have the powers (and in particular the security powers) of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas has supported and helped to organize many terrorist acts in the past, including the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, and has published a book denying the Holocaust.
Fayyad (who has on several recent occasions praised the murderers of Israeli civilians) is not a liberal in the American, European, or Israeli sense. Indeed in many ways, he is less liberal than politicians considered illiberal by many in the West, such as Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman or the U.S. Republican Party’s 2008 Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Nevertheless in the context of Palestinian politics (and compared to Abbas and other senior Palestinian politicians) he is a force for significant progress and good.
It was one of the great tragedies of Middle East politics that the Clinton White House and the Israeli Left did so much to promote terrorist thugs like Yasser Arafat rather than reformers like Fayyad.
For more on Arafat, who makes Fayyad look like Mother Theresa by comparison, please see here:
* Education under Arafat: Examples of Palestinian child abuse
* Arafat and his political allies
* Arafat Gets the Princess Di Treatment
THE “BEN GURION OF PALESTINE”?
Fayyad, 58, was born in the West Bank, but was educated and then worked as an economist in the U.S. He has been praised by many in Israel and the United States for his pragmatic and market-driven reforms, and Israeli President Shimon Peres has even called Fayyad the “Ben Gurion of Palestine,” in reference to Israel’s visionary founding Prime Minister who made the necessary compromises in order for a modern Israeli state to be born.
In fact, Fayyad has no direct elected mandate himself and has served at the pleasure of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after the Bush administration pressured Abbas to appoint Fayyad.
While not acknowledging the significant role the Bush administration played in encouraging Fayyad’s appointment and the Palestinian economic success that has followed, even American liberals such as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has praised the economic headway Fayyad has made, and Friedman has invented the term “Fayyadism”.
BUDDIES WITH ARIEL SHARON
Fayyad is also widely admired in Israel as finally being a Palestinian politician Israel can work with, a man who actually seems interested in building a Palestinian state rather than destroying a Jewish one.
For example, in 2005 he attended the wedding in Israel of the daughter of Dov Weisglass, then a Likud party activist and legal adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Fayyad, who had not yet become Palestinian prime minister, was seated next to Ariel Sharon and the two men could be seen heartily chatting together into the night.
“WE ARE NOT LOOKING FOR A STATE OF LEFTOVERS – A MICKEY MOUSE STATE”
In his new interview with Ha’aretz, Fayyad said the Palestinians want to declare an independent and sovereign Palestinian state by the end of next year, emphasizing they are “not looking for a state of leftovers – a Mickey Mouse state.”
He also welcomed the Middle East Quartet’s announcement two weeks ago in Moscow, that they supported the PA’s August 2009 plan to establish a state within 24 months. Fayyad told Ha’aretz that the new state will live “alongside the State of Israel in complete harmony.” He also relayed Jewish Passover greetings to Israelis.
But most importantly, when asked about refugees, he said “Palestinians would have the right to reside within the State of Palestine.”
“By August 2011... I believe we will have amassed such credit, in form of positive facts on the ground, that the reality [of an independent Palestinian state] is bound to force itself on the political process to produce the outcome,” Fayyad added.
FAYYAD: NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM
In separate remarks at the Holy Fire ceremony in Bethlehem on Saturday, Fayyad told the assemblage, “Next year, Inshallah (God willing), we shall celebrate in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in east Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian state.” A fire is lit each year on the day before Easter above the grave where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus was buried after his crucifixion.
GOOD PROGRESS, BUT DON’T JUMP THE GUN
I have repeatedly outlined on this email list (in these dispatches) ways in which the Palestinian economy (particularly in the West Bank, but also to some extent in Gaza) has been making good progress under Fayyad, aided by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fisher.
But almost the entire international media does not want to report this since they prefer to peddle misinformation about an “economic and humanitarian disaster” being inflicted on the Palestinians by Israel. Nor do many UN and international human rights workers wish to relay the truth, not least because their funding might then dry up and they might put themselves out of a job.
Please see two of my recent Wall Street Journal articles for more on this, and in particular for the photos from West Bank and Gaza, here:
However, the infrastructure necessary to support a state is far from ready, and it is unclear that the Palestinian security forces are yet in a position to prevent Palestinian rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport from any West Bank state. Were such rockets to be fired or other terror attacks to occur, the premature establishment of a Palestinian state, as threatened by Fayyad, would likely lead to an immediate all-out war.
A LACK OF HARD QUESTIONS
When reading the interview with Fayyad, please note that because it was conducted by Ha’aretz, and its hard left correspondent Akiva Eldar, who avoided asking Fayyad any tough questions, such as:
* Why does the Palestinian Authority state that throwing firebombs is a form of “peaceful protest”?
* Why did you encourage the renaming of a Ramallah square two weeks ago after one of the biggest killers of Israeli civilians in history?
* Will you allow any Jews to live in Palestine in the same way that Muslims live in Israel?
(Ha’aretz wouldn’t dream of avoiding asking hard questions when interviewing an Israeli politician.)
FAYYAD IN HERZLIYA
For those interested, here is a video of a speech by Fayyad at the Herzliya Conference in Israel two months ago.
“FAYYAD MAY DECLARE THAT JEWISH QUARTER, WESTERN WALL ARE IN NEW PALESTINIAN STATE”
In its editorial yesterday in response to Fayyad’s Ha’aretz interview, Israel’s bestselling newspaper Yediot Ahronot wrote:
“Two months ago, at the Herzliya Conference, President Shimon Peres bestowed on Salam Fayyad the title ‘the Palestinian Ben-Gurion’. But we must prepare to foil the Ben-Gurionesque program that Fayyad is openly preparing: His plan to declare a sovereign Palestinian state by August 2011, ‘with or without Israeli cooperation,’ while exploiting an international situation favorable to him, and not to us.
“This plan was presented already in August 2009, and last weekend Fayyad again waved it at an Israeli journalist. He did so along with various accusations against the Israel government and the settlers as a whole…
“He left no doubt as to his determination to declare a Palestinian state on every centimeter over the Green Line (including Mt. Scopus, the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as Ramat Eshkol, Gilo and Latrun junction). He did not mention any settlement blocs, and even did not mention territorial exchange, and gave no hint of willingness to accept Jewish settlements under Palestinian sovereignty.
“There is a basis on which to surmise that the original Ben-Gurion in his heyday would do his utmost to foil Fayyad’s scenario.”
PA PURGES EDUCATORS SUSPECTED OF HAVING LINKS TO HAMAS
The Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank is continuing to fire school teachers and imams in the West Bank suspected of being affiliated with Hamas. Over 1,000 school teachers and more than 300 imams have lost their jobs since the beginning of the crackdown.
The PA is determined to prevent Hamas from taking control of the West Bank.
PA “military courts” in the West Bank are also in the process of sentencing Hamas supporters to prison terms. The PA is presently holding hundreds of other Hamas activists in custody without trial.
NABIL SHAATH: THOSE DAMN ISRAELIS WON’T LET US LAUNCH THIRD INTIFADA
Nabil Shaath, a senior Fatah official who was one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, has admitted that Fatah would like to launch another intifada but it can’t because of Israel’s security barrier and because “conditions did not allow for the Palestinians to confront a strong enemy.
In remarks to Palestinian media, he said that in light of the heavy losses the Palestinians suffered “as a result of [Israeli counter measures against] the Palestinian use of weapons and suicide bombings during the second intifada, as well as the ongoing power struggle between Fatah and Hamas, it is impossible for Palestinians living in the West Bank to launch another armed uprising.”
(A reader adds: During the (BBC-screened) Doha debate with Nabil Shaath and two Hamasniks on March 21, 2010, Shaath said words to the effect that “Hamas didn’t stop shooting rockets into Israel because they wanted to give up... you saw what the Israelis did in retaliation.” He said Fatah has been fighting the occupation for 100 years. And they would not hesitate to use “military” means when the time is ripe. He said Fatah and Hamas have the same ultimate goals.)
[All notes above by Tom Gross]
A RARE INTERVIEW WITH SALAM FAYAAD
Palestinian PM to Ha’aretz: We will have a state next year
By Akiva Eldar
April 2, 2010
RAMALLAH - Next year, “the birth of a Palestinian state will be celebrated as a day of joy by the entire community of nations,” says Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in an exclusive interview to Ha’aretz.
Relaying Passover greetings to the Jewish community, Fayyad hopes Israelis will also participate in the celebrations for the birth of a new state.
“The time for this baby to be born will come,” he says, “and we estimate it will come around 2011. That is our vision, and a reflection of our will to exercise our right to live in freedom and dignity in the country [where] we are born, alongside the State of Israel in complete harmony,” says Fayyad, 58.
He also welcomed the Quartet’s announcement of two weeks ago in Moscow, which supports the PA’s August 2009 plan to establish a state within 24 months.
Fayyad says the Palestinians want an independent and sovereign state, emphasizing they are “not looking for a state of leftovers - a Mickey Mouse state.” He and his aides plan for the state to be born during the first term of Barack Obama; he notes that previous U.S. administrations seriously tackled the conflict only toward the end of their second term.
“If for one reason or another, by August 2011 [the plan] will have failed... I believe we will have amassed such credit, in form of positive facts on the ground, that the reality is bound to force itself on the political process to produce the outcome,” Fayyad says.
The prime minister adds: “I envision that we will be so mature in terms of positive facts on the ground, and along the way have grown on our Israeli neighbors, we will have begun a process of transformation from a concept, to a possibility, to a reality.
Fayyad says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has succumbed to the settlers who, he says, do not reflect the vision of the majority of Israelis. “We have universally shared values,” he says, and notes that “peace will be made between equals, not between masters and slaves.”
Fayyad, who has positioned himself at the forefront of popular opposition to occupation, criticizes Israel’s policies on protests at Bil’in and Na’alin and for targeting demonstrators. “It is expecting too much of Palestinians not to react,” he says.
“It is the right of an oppressed nation to say ‘enough’,” says Fayyad. “No one should be expected to stand for injustice, not least the Palestinians, who have endured long decades of occupation. Is it not what Gandhi stood for, what Martin Luther King stood for?
“The settlers have a tremendous pull on the Israeli government. It’s pure self-righteousness: the exclusion of the possibility that someone out there might have a slightly different opinion - in an indignant way and often times in a violent way.
“Related to the Zionist ethos, fine, Israel is a biblical country, there are lots of hilltops, lots of vacant space, why don’t they use that, and let us get on with it?”
Q: Are the American demands of Israel moving us in the right direction? Do you agree with the argument that putting an end to our conflict will help to contain Iran?
A: “The conflict of the region is not about us at all; it’s between radicals and moderates. It is clear to me that ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is an American national interest. The world should be able to do what they want to do to help - in their own interest as well but they can’t do it.
“The issue should not be looked at as if the United States wants to take a position, it is doing so to favor the Palestinians, at the expense of Israelis. And for the U.S. to succeed it should not be the other way around, either. Basically, for the world to succeed in helping us get to where we want, both sides should be held accountable.
Q: Officials around Netanyahu keep arguing that you are using the settlement issue to avoid a negotiated agreement and gain time until the international community imposes your plan on Israel.”
A: “This is one way in which this government attempts to trivialize the issue, as if it’s a question of taking turns - that we Palestinians somehow just woke up to this reality and decided to make it an issue.
“If the whole world is unable to secure something as basic as stopping this, preventing this from continuing to happen, how sure can we be the political process, once relaunched, will be capable of delivering on those bigger, permanent issues? It is a question of credibility.
“Anyone would be a fool to say that it was right for us to accept a situation that we were not able to stop the expansion of the settlements during negotiations. In hindsight, that is obvious. But a lot of things were not expected in the euphoria of 1993.”
Q: According to your information, is there a real moratorium on settlement activity in the West Bank?
A: “All indications show that it’s not working. There was a serious flaw in the moratorium itself, before the 1,600 units in Ramat Shlomo and even before the Gilo affair. That underscored the deep flaw associated with the moratorium concept that was put forward by the Israeli government.
“We knew from the beginning that excluding East Jerusalem from the moratorium concept would become a problem, a flaw associated with that.
“Essentially the way the moratorium concept was put forward, in the way Jerusalem is defined by Israel, is a loophole. It is certainly not something that is taken seriously by the government of Israel. It should be, and yet it is contrived that the Palestinians looked for an issue - to use it as a pretext not to negotiate. “
Q: How do you get out of this? No Israeli leader could promise to stop building in East Jerusalem.
A: “A way can be found, particularly since the inherent structure of weakness associated with the moratorium concept that was proposed by Netanyahu was exposed.
“At some point somebody has to stand up and assume responsibility for what’s going on. Isn’t that what is expected of us Palestinians?
“We need to lift each other up, not drag each other down. You need a full understanding of where the other side is coming from. I maintain that we have that, we understand that these are completely different, diametrically opposed narratives. I don’t expect, ever, for our narrative to be accepted by Israel, but likewise, for Netanyahu to say that the Israeli historical narrative is basis for a just settlement, is expecting too much. “
Q: Can you build a Palestinian state as long as Hamas controls Gaza and you are not able to hold elections?
A. “People in Gaza are looking at us as well, and saying they also want to have a better life. Look at how fragmented we are in the West Bank, but Gaza you can cover from north, south, east, and west 10-20 times a day. What took us a year to do in the West Bank can be accomplished in two months in Gaza.
“Who would have thought a couple years ago there would be this transformation in the mind-set? Not many thought that possible. All you have to do is travel beyond Ramallah and see for yourself. It’s a changed reality.
Q: What are you doing to stop incitement against Israel?
A: Incitement can take the form of many things - things said, things done, provocations - but there are ways for dealing with this. We are dealing with this. “
Q: Would you agree to leave the issue of Jerusalem to a later stage of the process?
A: “Not at all. It should be handled at the very beginning. The negotiations should not be about principles, they should be about arrangements, accommodations, access.
“We look at this politically. Politically, we feel a right to have a state of Palestine on the land that was occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem.
“But this is a political conflict, and I do not believe it should be allowed to spill over into any other sphere, be it cultural or religious. That would be most counterproductive and wrong.”
Q: Your plan takes into consideration the need to absorb refugees.
A: Of course, Palestinians would have the right to reside within the State of Palestine.