Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is quietly changing the rules of the Arab-Israeli conflict with a simple credo: Palestinians have to build their state now and cannot wait for an elusive peace deal with Israel.
He is moving ahead with an ambitious plan to get the Palestinians ready for statehood by August 2011 by trying to build it from the ground up: paving roads, reforming the judiciary, planning new cities.
The US-trained economist has been showered with praise, money and
support by the US and Europe. Official Israel has said little, though
some in Israel express concern that Fayyad is spearheading a Palestinian
strategy to bypass negotiations, declare a de facto state and seek
international recognition for it.
Fayyad believes success creates its own momentum that presenting a
compelling case for a Palestinian state will make it inevitable. But he
stops short of saying the Palestinians would declare independence on
"The thinking was, by around mid-2011, if the political process will not
have produced an end to the occupation ... the reality of a Palestinian
state would force itself on the political process, on the world," he
said in a recent interview conducted in his motorcade driving through
the West Bank.
Fayyad has focused in recent months on trying to rekindle enthusiasm
among Palestinians disillusioned by years of failed peacemaking.