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Fayyad Speaks at the Herzliya Conference

Last night, Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, spoke at the Herzliya Conference about the need for Palestinian statehood and the current situation with peace negotiations.

Fayyad stated that Oslo recognized Israel’s right to exist in peace and security. However, he argued that the problem with Oslo was that Israel did not recognize Palestine’s right to exist, and that Israel still doesn’t. Oslo “suggested” Palestinian statehood, but was not seen as a necessary outcome. In 2002, U.S. President Bush made Palestinian statehood a matter of international consensus. The “rough neighborhood” that is the Middle East, as Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak put it, would become less rough if, according to Fayad, the “international consensus” became “facts on the ground.” He stated that a Palestinian state must be established based on “justice,” “peace,” “stability,” “fairness,” and “security.”
Here, Fayad seems to miss a major point. “Justice” does not necessarily mean “fairness.” That which is just may not be fair. Therefore, it would appear that Fayyad and his friends must determine whether they are looking for a “just” solution, or a “fair” solution.

Fayyad explained that, under the Road Map, Palestinians must increase their ability to govern, which includes a security force. Security, he explained, as of mid-2007, is important to Palestinians, as well. Israel, he said, must be willing to “unequivocally” accept a two-state solution. That, he explained, called for a settlement-freeze. Israel must, “stop military incursions into our [Palestinian] territory.” “Occupation,” he said, “is being brought back on its way to end.” Palestinians are “sensitive to Israeli security needs,” but “incursions must completely stop.” Today, he argued, the situation is “at an impasse,” and that “occupation” is at the heart of the impasse. Further, he stated, Palestinian police must have “security forces present in population centers outside of Area A.” This, he explained, would bring hope to the Palestinians.
Yet, while referring to the Road Map, drafted by the United States, he, also, stated that peace would only be achieved through the Arab Peace Initiative. Seems kind of contradictory, doesn’t it?

Fayyad, also, brought up the topic of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem, he argued, is Palestinian territory occupied in 1967. Fayyad loudly stated that it is, “historical fact that East Jerusalem is an integral part of Palestine occupied in 1967.” Palestinians are willing to have a state on “22% of historic Palestine,” which, he claimed, was “agreed to in 1988” by the PLO.

This, clearly, is based upon fiction. I am not arguing that the Palestinians shouldn’t have their own state; to the contrary. However, it is purely fiction to claim that there was a “historic Palestinian state” or that Israel conquered Palestinian territory in 1967. The West Bank (Judea and Sumeria), including East Jerusalem, was, from 1948 to 1967, controlled by Jordan, and the Gaza Strip was controlled by Egypt. Previously, the land was controlled by the British, who took it over from the Ottomans. Let’s get our facts strait; Jerusalem is not now, nor was it ever, an “integral part of Palestine.” Whether the political powers that be ought to decide to make East Jerusalem the capitol of Palestine is not within the scope of this article. Yet, the clear changing of facts being iterated by Fayyad and the Palestinian Authority for years, here, I felt must be addressed.

Discussing settlement building, Fayyad explained the political dimension of protest to settlement building. If Israel cannot refrain from that, “how confidant can we all [Palestinians] be that” Israel would be willing to deliver on the final status issues?

Though to that, Israel might respond, if the Palestinian Authority cannot keep their people from attempting attacks on Israel in the interim period, how can we [Israel] be confident that the Palestinian government, when a state is established, will be capable or willing to do so?

According to Fayyad, the goal is to establish a sovereign Palestinian state by mid-2011, preceded by a full Israeli withdrawal by the end of 2010. Fayad proudly remarked that over 100 completed development programs have been implemented, and they are “ready for the next batch.” He expressed that a combination of “bottom-up” and “top-down” processes are needed.

Last, he turned to Gaza. There are many problems with Gaza, he said. Mentioning two, he stated that first, Palestinians have a constitutional right to national elections, which are being prevented by forces in Gaza. Second, referring to the Israeli blockade, he said that “siege must be lifted” to allow for accomplishments in Gaza to be made.

Interestingly, the fact the PA doesn’t control Gaza, and that Hamas is on the rise in the West Bank, as well, was not mentioned at all, throughout his 30-something minute speech.

Fayyad was warmly received and even received one or two standing ovations. Reaction from those attending the conference seem to fall into camps. Some greatly enjoyed Fayyad’s speech and found it to be “right on the mark.” Others, however, were greatly dismayed by the “flagrant propaganda spewed” throughout the speech.

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