Right of Reply: Read the Salaam Fayad plan for what it is

Right of Reply Read the

In a Jerusalem Post article "In the land of miracles, let's get real"(September 29), Gershon Baskin describes the Salaam Fayad plan as "one of the most positive and optimistic developments of recent times". However, a reading of Fayad's plan, entitled "Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State: Program of the Thirteenth Government - August 2009" would seem to belie Baskin's postulation. While the preface to Fayad's paper introduces a Palestinian state that would strive for "peace, security and stability in our region on the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, with east Jerusalem as its capital," Fayad's 38-page position paper reads like a declaration of war, not of peace. Fayad asserts that "Jerusalem" will be the Palestinian capital of the Palestinian state - not east Jerusalem. In case anyone was wondering if Fayad had made a typographical error by not mentioning "east" Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, he repeats - 10 times - that he means Jerusalem, all of Jerusalem. He leaves nothing to the imagination, and writes that the Palestinian state will "protect Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Palestinian state," because he asserts that "Jerusalem is our people's religious, cultural, economic and political center. It is the Flower of Cities and Capital of Capitals. It cannot be anything but the eternal capital of the future Palestinian state. Jerusalem." FAYAD GOES on to claim that Jerusalem "is under threat" and that "the occupying authority is implementing a systematic plan to alter the city's landmarks and its geographical and demographic character in order to forcibly create facts on the ground, ultimately separating it from its Palestinian surroundings and eradicating its Arab Palestinian heritage." Fayad further claims that "Palestinian life in Jerusalem is under daily attack through systematic violations perpetrated by the occupation regime" and that "it is the right and the duty of all Palestinians to protect their land, reject the occupation and defy its measures," adding that the Palestinian state "bears special responsibility for nurturing our people's ability to persevere and protect their homeland." He adds that the Palestinian government will maintain its "unreserved commitment to defending the Arab character and status of Jerusalem.... The government will continue to do all that is possible to achieve this goal. The government will work with all organizations to preserve the landmarks of Jerusalem and its Arab Palestinian heritage, develop the city, and secure its contiguity with its Palestinian surroundings." Fayad frames Jerusalem as an illegal settlement, postulating that "the occupying authority is pursuing its intensive settlement policy in and around Jerusalem.... The occupation regime has shut down our national institutions, neglected the development of Palestinian life, continued to demolish and evacuate Palestinian homes, and restricted access to sacred Christian and Islamic sites." He goes so far as to present a practical plan to Arabize Jerusalem: Maintaining Jerusalem as a top priority on the government's agenda and· "highlighting its predicament in the media. Launching programs to promote the steadfastness of Jerusalemites, including: Strengthen Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem, providing financial support to help them deliver services to citizens." He reassures his readers that a future Palestinian state would not be satisfied with Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza as the national home for Palestinians, and says that the Palestinian government will continue to advocate for "Palestinian refugees in accordance with relevant international resolutions, and UN General Assembly Resolution 194 in particular," which mandates that Palestinian refugees and their descendents have a right to return to the homes and villages that Palestinians left during the 1948 war and its aftermath. Fayad reminds Palestinians that "the refugee issue will remain under the jurisdiction of the PLO, through its Department of Refugees' Affairs ... in a manner that does not exempt the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) from its responsibilities." In Fayad's view, UNRWA will therefore continue to confine Palestinian refugees and their descendants to the indignity of refugee camps, under the premise and promise of the "right of return." MEANWHILE, FAYAD expresses full support for Palestinians who have been convicted of murder and attempted murder, saying that "the state also has an enduring obligation to care and provide for the martyrs, prisoners, orphans and all those harmed in the Palestinian struggle for independence." He simply cannot understand why Palestinians convicted of capital crimes should be jailed. He proclaims that "the continued detention of thousands of Palestinian detainees and prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention camps in violation of international law and basic human rights, is of great concern to all Palestinians," and declares that "securing the freedom of all these heroic prisoners is an utmost Palestinian priority and it is a fundamental duty all Palestinians feel to honor their great sacrifices and end their suffering," and demands the "freedom of all Palestinian detainees and prisoners and will continue to strive to secure their liberty." He further declares that the Palestinian state will be an Islamic state and "promote awareness and understanding of the Islamic religion and culture and disseminate the concept of tolerance in the religion through developing and implementing programs of Shari'a education as derived from the science of the Holy Koran and Prophet's heritage." In sum, the Palestinian prime minister concludes with a demand for a Palestinian state in the next two years, along the parameters that he has outlined - Jerusalem as the capital of an Islamic Shari'a state that will campaign for all convicts to be freed, for all refugees to return to the homes and villages that they left in 1948. It would be instructive to know whether Baskin even bothered to read the plan before calling it a 'postive development.' The writer, the Middle East correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, directs Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research at Beit Agron Press Center.