Fayyad rejects bi-national state idea

PA prime minister: Unilateral declaration of statehood a pipedream.

fayyad 311 (photo credit: AP)
fayyad 311
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has ruled out any unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.
“There is not going to be a unilateral declaration of statehood,” Fayyad told The Media Line during a private meeting in his office. “What’s the point? We did that in 1988, and what did it get us?”
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The statement was a public rejection of increasing calls from minority Palestinian factions to recalibrate the Palestinian struggle away from a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and towards a shared, bi-national, secular and democratic state.
“The Palestinians have used this as a sort of whip to say if we do not move ahead towards the two-state solution, then we will move ahead towards a one-state solution and everything will be lost for Israel by sheer force of democracy,” Dr. Shmuel Bar, Director of Studies at the Institute of Policy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya told The Media Line.
“The narrative of ‘Palestine from the river to the sea’ has always been popular among Palestinians, so when you have a public opinion poll as to whether they would prefer a one-state solution or a two-state solution, you will see a lot prefer a one-state solution. But it’s just part of the old vision of liberating all of Palestine and doesn’t have an effect on actual political decision-making.”
Fayyad has been championing a plan to build national Palestinian institutions so as to create a de facto state over a period of two years, which comes to a close in August 2011. The initiative is known as the ‘Fayyad Plan’.
“[Statehood] is not something that is going to happen to the Israelis, nor something that is going to happen to the Palestinians,” Fayyad said. “It is something that will grow on both sides as a reality... creating a belief that this was inevitable through the process, a convergence of two paths, the political and the process, from the bottom up and the top down.”
“When we started there was skepticism, but I am most encouraged by the growing number of people who now believe it,” Fayyad said, referring to the “necessity” to “build a state based on universal principles” and “support the shift and mindset away from violence.”
The Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that a one-state solution is not on the table, arguing that any negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel would be based on “the terms of reference of two states and 1967 [borders] with agreed swaps.”
“I am against a one-state solution, my option is a two-state solution – that is the only option for Palestinians and Israelis,” he told The Media Line. “We want to reach the end game, we want to end the conflict.”
Hillel Frisch, a professor at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, pointed out that senior Palestinian diplomats would lose out with a one-state solution.
“Fayyad is the prime minister of a quasi-state right now,” he told The Media Line. “So he and most of the bureaucrats in the Palestinian Authority have a vested interest in promoting a two-state solution as they would personally only stand to lose if they were to become the leaders of a minority section of a new bi-national state.”
“Fayyad gets to Obama and travel[s] in the highest circles, and that’s even before a Palestinian state,” said Dr. Frisch. “Under a bi-national state he’d become a nobody.”
“Fayyad also realizes that a bi-national state is basically a code-word for a continuation of violence,” he continued. “Because the only way Israel would ever be compelled into accepting a bi-national state, which Israeli Jews see as their demise, would be through violence.”
Dr. Frisch argued that despite day-to-day diplomacy, the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the US have agreed on the need to delay the formalization of a Palestinian state.
“I think that all sides to the conflict, including the US, are trying to buy time,” he said. “That’s essential to making sure that Hamas cannot take over.”
“The Israelis still incarcerate about 5,000 Palestinians, a high percentage of whom are Hamas members, meaning there is a tremendous swamp that has to be dried before a Palestinian state, and basically, the Israelis are drying it,” Dr. Frisch said. “So there is no rush.”
Fayyad denied using delay tactics, but has stressed that the state-building process would be long and arduous.
“Our process is predicated upon a shift away from violence towards a positive agenda of state-building,” he concluded. “A solid majority of Palestinians support a two-state solution, but only a minority believe it will actually happen. Our plan is to create the sense that a Palestinian state is inevitable.”