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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A 'Palestinian state' by 2011?

The Times of London has an interview with 'Palestinian Prime Minister' Salam Fayyad in which the western-looking Fayyad claims that a 'Palestinian state' will be a fact by 2011, with or without Israeli consent.
Mr Fayyad said that the idea was to “end the occupation, despite the occupation”. He told The Times in an interview: “After 16 years [of failed peace talks] why not change the discourse?

“We have decided to be proactive, to expedite the end of the occupation by working very hard to build positive facts on the ground, consistent with having our state emerge as a fact that cannot be ignored. This is our agenda, and we want to pursue it doggedly.”

He said that if a functioning de facto state existed — with or without Israeli co-operation — including competent security forces, functioning public services and a thriving economy, it would force Israel to put its cards on the table as to whether it was serious about ending the 42-year occupation of the West Bank. He hoped that this goal could be achieved by mid-2011.
There are a number of missing factors here. One is that it is doubtful whether Fayyad himself will be in power in 2011. If Fatah reconciles with Hamas, it is almost certain that Fayyad will lose power, and that many of the 'Palestinians' of Judea and Samaria will return to terror. It would also likely signal an end to the responsible handling of the 'Palestinian' economy.

Fayyad talks about a thriving economy, but for all his efforts, the 'Palestinians' still have the largest 'police force' in the world (and it continues to grow), have one of the most government-dominated economies in the world, and depend on huge international subsidies (the highest per capita in the world) which Fayyad gives no indication that they intend to give up. Does Fayyad believe that the world will continue to subsidize a 'Palestinian state' in perpetuity? (Given the UNRWA experience, I suppose that is possible). Amazingly, until Yasser Arafat returned to the area in 1994, the 'Palestinians' had almost no international subsidies (that's a relatively recent addiction) and until the 'first intifada' started in late 1987, the 'Palestinian' economy had grown by leaps and bounds from the time that Israel took over Judea, Samaria and Gaza in 1967. Economically, there is little doubt that the 'Palestinians' were better off from 1967-87 than they have ever been.

While I am very sympathetic to the idea of the 'Palestinians' building 'positive facts on the ground' (because I believe that if the 'Palestinians' felt that they have something to lose here, they would be less prone to violence), I am skeptical that Fayyad's goals are achievable at all, and I certainly don't believe that they are achievable within two years. It takes much longer than that to build an economy, and the 'Palestinians' have very little entrepreneurial spirit.

More pipedreams....


At 5:59 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Palestinians certainly can declare independence and set up some kind of government. Israel couldn't prevent them from doing so if they wanted to. But creating a functioning state takes more than issue a declaration. It takes lots of hard work to make it a reality and there is no indication the Palestinians want statehood more than they want to fulfill their dream of destroying Israel. If getting rid of the occupation was really a fierce moral urgency for them - they don't need to wait two years for their freedom. They could make all the arrangements with Israel today and achieve independence without the wait. But that's not really their desire... and Fayad's statement confirms it.

At 6:20 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Barry Rubin writes today that Fayad's pledge is one of those things that will never happen. As I mentioned, if the Palestinians believe the "occupation" harms them so much that they want to get rid of it, they don't need to wait two years to achieve it. Rubin's money quote tells us why peace hasn't been achieved and why a Palestinian state by 2011 is about as likely as rain falling in the Sahara Desert:

And everyone likes to forget that the Israeli presence has been accepted by the PA itself in a number of agreements beginning with the Israel-PLO Oslo accord of 1993. Almost everything Israel does on the West Bank takes place in the context of things the PA has agreed to happen.

What’s the catch? The agreements say this will continue until a peace agreement is made. So who’s responsible for the continuation of the “occupation”? Not Israel; the PA.

There's more. Read it all


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