Fayyad reveals 'stage 2' of plan for 'State of Palestine'

PA gov't planning new reality on the ground; poll finds most Palestinians unconvinced Obama can secure peace deal.

By
August 31, 2010 05:03
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Monday unveiled the second phase of his plan to create institutions for a Palestinian state within one year.

Speaking to reporters in Ramallah, he said that his government was planning to create a reality on the ground that would be hard to ignore.

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The Palestinian government, according to the new plan, would focus on imposing law and order, increasing transparency and accountability and combating corruption.

“In the second year of its plan, the government is seeking to stress national preparedness for the establishment of the State of Palestine,” Fayyad said. He admitted that the PA was facing financial difficulties, making it hard for it to meet basic needs.

Fayyad said that in the past year alone his government succeeded in implementing 2,000 projects in various fields, including in infrastructure, water and health development.

However, according to a poll published on Monday, two-thirds of Palestinians don’t believe that US President Barack Obama is capable of securing a deal that would lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, Fatah announced that it would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

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Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf dismissed demands that the Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state. He said such a demand was in violation of international law and threatened to sabotage the peace talks.

Accepting Israel’s demand meant that “millions of Palestinians would be expelled from their historic homes and lands – and this will never happen,” the Fatah spokesman said.

Assaf’s remarks came as Palestinian negotiators prepared to leave for Washington to attend the US-sponsored direct talks with Israel.

The survey, conducted in the first week of August, also showed that a majority of Palestinians supports peace talks with Israel.

The poll, which covered 1,010 Palestinians and has a margin of error of three percentage points, was conducted by the Bethlehem-based Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, headed by Nabil Kokali.

Sixty-six percent of those polled said they did not believe in Obama’s capability to bring about the establishment of a Palestinian state, Kokali said.

About 80% said they did not believe mediation efforts by US envoy George Mitchell would advance the cause of peace.

According to the poll, 62% of Palestinians support direct and indirect peace talks with Israel, while another 31% voiced opposition to such negotiations.

The poll found that an overwhelming majority of 86% of Palestinians is opposed to the annexation of the West Bank to Israel and granting the residents there Israeli citizenship. Only 10% favored the idea, the poll showed.

Nearly 55% of those polled favored a two-state solution, while 26% said they preferred a binational state as part of a one-state solution.

Asked to evaluate the performance of the two Palestinian governments in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 55% said they preferred Salaam Fayyad to his Hamas rival Ismail Haniyeh, who got the backing of only 22%.

Fifty-seven percent praised the Fayyad government in the West Bank for implementing reforms, while 27% expressed an opposite view. More than half of those polled said that corruption has decreased under the Fayyad government.

• Hizbullah and a small Sunni group resulted in the deaths of three people.

Hariri was expected on Monday to head the first meeting of a new committee formed to discuss ways of ridding the Lebanese capital of weapons.

Meanwhile, an Iranian official told the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Asharq al-Awsat that Teheran would target Israel’s Dimona reactor if the Islamic Republic was hit by an Israeli or US air strike.

“Teheran is aware that Israel and the United States want to target Iran, but we are also aware that while they actually have the option to launch war, they do not have the option to end it. This is America’s and Israel’s point of weakness.

We know that there is no solution to this point of weakness, thanks to the importance of the Gulf region, America’s problems in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the small area of the Zionist entity,” the unnamed official was quoted by the paper as saying.

The official added that the Iranian regime did not see any strong reason to reach an accommodation with Israel because of the view of Israel’s declining strategic value among Western countries, including the US.

“We believe that the United States is looking for a strong partner in the region as an alternative to its dependence on Israel in the future. We in Iran believe that the United States and the Western nations now view Israel more as a burden and that Israel is incapable of contributing to achieving peace in the Middle East,” the official told Asharq al-Awsat.

The official went on to say that the Islamic Republic would seek to expand its presence in Syria and Lebanon as Israel’s influence in the region declined and Iran acquired nuclear capability.

Last week, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told the Iranian people by radio that a regional war initiated by Teheran was a distinct possibility, adding that “Israel is committed to defending its citizens and if attacked will act accordingly.”

The comments, released by the Foreign Ministry in Hebrew last Tuesday, came during a Farsi-language broadcast on Israel Radio in which Ayalon addressed the people of Iran, took calls and answered questions. The Farsi broadcast originally aired last Monday.

“A fear exists that Iran – as it becomes more pressured by sanctions – will goad those under its patronage in Hizbullah and Hamas to initiate military action against Israel. There’s also a possibility that Iran will make a military move against the Arab Gulf states and harm the flow of oil to the world, in which case the entire situation will degrade into widespread confrontations.

Remember that the sanctions are aimed against Iran’s efforts to arm itself with nuclear weapons, and if they don’t elicit results, the United States and other nations might consider other options,” Ayalon said.

AP contributed to this report.

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