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Fayyad: Palestinians isolated, short of funds
Published Tuesday 08/05/2012 (updated) 27/05/2012 00:12
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Salam Fayyad speaks to the media after a cabinet session at his office
in the occupied West Bank. (MaanImages/Mustafa Abu Dayeh, File)
By Michael Stott and Samia Nakhoul

RAMALLAH (Reuters) -- Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Tuesday the Palestinians may have "lost the argument" on the international stage for an independent state but cautioned that continued Israeli occupation was unsustainable.

In an interview, Fayyad struck a note of discord with President Mahmoud Abbas by calling for elections that have long been delayed because of deep political divisions between the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.

He also warned his administration's future was clouded by severe financial strains and said the Palestinians had failed to galvanize a distracted world behind their cause.

"I think we are losing the argument, if we have not already lost the argument. But that doesn't make our position wrong," said the former World Bank economist, a political independent who has had strong support amongst Western powers.

Arab unrest, the US presidential elections and financial crises in Europe had combined to knock the Palestinian issue off the global agenda more than 18 months after peace talks with Israel broke down in a dispute over settlement building.

"What is the biggest obstacle we face? The state of marginalization. It is unprecedented," he said. "The Israelis have managed to successfully trivialize our side of the argument," he added, alluding to the Palestinian demands for a halt to settlement building before negotiations can resume.

Israel says talks should continue without preconditions and has continued to build housing in blocs that dot the West Bank on land the United Nations deems illegally occupied.

Speaking from his offices in Ramallah, 12 miles from Jerusalem, with the red, black, green and white national flag behind him, Fayyad said Palestinians must get their own house in order before they could hope for long-cherished independence, which most world powers continue to support in principle.

"I do not believe we will be able to get a state unless we are able to reunify our country," he said of the political divide that has split the West Bank from the coastal enclave of Gaza, governed since 2007 by Hamas.

Deep freeze

Attempts by Abbas, who rules in the West Bank, to bridge this divide over the past year have failed amid mutual recriminations and plans to hold long-awaited elections this month across the Palestinian territories were shelved.

"The reconciliation process is in the deep freeze. Let's face it," Fayyad said, adding that the Palestinians should forge ahead with election plans regardless of opposition from Hamas in order to re-engage with a disillusioned populace.

"A basic right of our people is being violated. The right of being able to choose our leadership," he said.

The last presidential and parliamentary elections were held in 2006 and many Palestinians, including Abbas and the Hamas leadership, have said a fresh vote can happen only if both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are involved.

Strains have been reported in relations between Abbas and Fayyad since the PA prime minister refused to hand over a letter from the president to Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu laying out Palestinian grievances over the failure of talks.

Fayyad disagreed with the initiative last month but said the episode was now behind them and confirmed the two were working on the formation of a new government, where he will remain prime minister but will likely lose the finance portfolio.

Given the task of building institutions in readiness for statehood, Fayyad said his job was being imperiled by a lack of resources, with Arab nations failing to hand over promised aid.

"There is an issue of survivability of the Palestinian Authority given the acute financial crisis we are going through," he said, adding his government needed a "few hundred million dollars" to keep afloat.

The Palestinian Authority -- which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank -- depends on donor aid from the United States, the European Union and Arab states to pay the salaries of public workers, including teachers and security personnel.

The Palestinians had planned for foreign aid of about $1.1 billion in 2011, but received just under $750 million and are lagging again in donations this year. No reason has been given for the failure of some Arab allies to honor their pledges.

Despite the many challenges facing the Palestinians and the lengthy breakdown in peace negotiations, Fayyad said he was convinced that independence would be achieved within 10 years.

"Occupation is not only a major political failure, but given its oppressive nature it is also a moral failure for Israel. It is not something that can be sustained," he said. "Walls have gone down elsewhere. Why should here be an exception?"
1 ) outlier / USA
08/05/2012 23:46
The Palestinians can and should blame themselves for their marginalization. Divisiveness. Radical speech. Hate mongering. Negotiation preconditions. Provocative acts (of which the Israelis also are guilty). Posturing. A litany of bad choices - in allies, in tone and in deeds. The path to Palestine is clear; a complete cessation of hostilities, recognition of Israel, negotiated, secure borders based on the 1967 border, a shared Jerusalem, no right of return and normalization of economic relations

2 ) christian palestinian / usa
09/05/2012 00:13
How come the corrupt PA didn't go to the UN General Assembly and request an upgrade of our diplomatic status so that we could pursue legal options against apartheid israel?? The fact that the PA didn't act on this last September 2011 when it had the chance tells me who they represent.

3 ) some one / some where
09/05/2012 00:33
could one of those leaders tell me with what your PM fayyad who is realy educatate person say about your financil situation of begging how you going to have state and how you going to manage it
it is like 20 years old boy with no job no house no moneny marring a girl with no job no money. do not blame occupation for this you know is not true learn from other nation build and then came we can now you can not

4 ) Arnold / Canada
09/05/2012 02:47
Meanwhile an "occupied" West Bank is economically viable under the watchful eye of the PA whereas Gaza is in throes of total mismanagement by Hamas.

5 ) Dan Leasia / USA
09/05/2012 03:00
First of all... this whole piece is dishonest. I will not encourage the government of the USA to send money to people who encourage their youth to kill and hate Jews, teach their young to kill, bomb and hate Jews. After all these years of money we have poured into Palestine, most of its people are no better off. We don't owe you anything. You are not entitled to my hard earned money. I am the fool if I give you my money so you can make bombs to kill us.

6 ) Emile / USA
09/05/2012 03:37
Bottom line: Goodbye PA, Hello One State

7 ) Sustainable / Reality
09/05/2012 05:16
Finally some reality from the PA: - Yes, we're "isolated", & "short of funds", and - Yes, we've "lost the international argument" !! Now the only thing preventing the creation of Palestine is just a bit more reality, regarding the "occupation": - Israeli Arabs & refugees are NOT occupied, - Gaza & Area A are NOT occupied, - Area B is self-governed & essentially NOT occupied, and - Area C has so few Palestinians (1%) in it, that already THE OCCUPATION IS ESSENTIALLY OVER & SUSTAINABLE.

8 ) southparkbear / usa
09/05/2012 05:30
yaanee he's saying nour /zero state. Hum for once I agree with him as all those laughable self procliamed victories by 'contributors' here vent. However, venting as we all know brings no solution. Facts and vision do

9 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
09/05/2012 09:07
Easy way to end the isolation - return to peace talks without preconditions.

10 ) Outsider / EU
09/05/2012 10:43
Fayyad remains the only credible politician in Palestine. Whatever about individual choices he has made, he is the only one that talks with clarity and realism.

11 ) Omar / UK
09/05/2012 12:35
If Fayyad means what he says he should resign. He is part of the illegal collaborationist puppet regime of "security coordination" with the occupation that is strangling our people.

12 ) Nour / One-State
09/05/2012 12:58
#10 Thank you for your opinion, but yours doesn't matter. You are not even Palestinian. Do not interfere in our internal affairs. Fayyad might be a "respected" leader in the West, but what was his popularity levels in the last election? 3% went to his Third Way party. I don't trust the man. I see him more of an astute economic administrator, or general manager, than the type of unifying figure Palestine desperately needs today.

13 ) EE / UK
09/05/2012 13:36
Endless marches, demonstrations, rallies, flag waving, chanting, complaining, UN appeals, talking about dignity... What is about working - go to the work site and work from 8:00 to 5:00, do something useful - what can be sold to other people. When did last time palestinian work for money? How long they will be living on foreign aid and exercise in anti-semitism and terrorism. Do they have a smallest drop of self-respect? I think everybody knows the answer.

14 ) Budget / Crisis
09/05/2012 13:37
It is time to cut Abbas off and de-fund his PA. Let him complain to UN and UNESCO and everywhere else. Let him join Hamas in begging Iran for money. UNESCO also might help - Hamas already made great contribution to the world culture by mixing terror with politics. Only one little question left – can Abbas fly in the case Hamas lure him to the roof top and push over the edge.

15 ) Lack of / Money
09/05/2012 13:37
Did palestinians consider very simply solution for the constant budget crunch - go to work - start actually doing something, earn some money instead of endless rallies, chanting, sit-ins, protests, demonstrations, committees, meetings, hunger strikes, travel abroad, rock throwing ets. It might help.

16 ) @ Outlier-1 & Emile-6 / USA too
09/05/2012 15:18
You are right about every thing, EXCEPT there will be:
1- Neither "secure borders based on the 1967 borders",
2- Nor "a shared Jerusalem", and without these
your view, could lead to the creation of a "Palestine" very quickly,
but "Palestinians" will NEVER accept your view, even with these !!!

In 1949 the UN said "Hello To One State" - Israel, and:
- Israel will NEVER accept,
- NOR can the UN force,
the merger of Areas A/B & Gaza into Israel !!!

17 ) Nour / ONe-State
09/05/2012 18:24
De-recognize the PA !

18 ) southparkbear / usa
09/05/2012 19:21
i agree with #12, palestinians nee now a carismatic thief

19 ) @ Nour #17 / USA
09/05/2012 22:27
That will NOT make "Palestine" any better to live in,
or any closer to becoming a real state, but OK, I "De-recognize the PA."

It makes NO DIFFERNCE at all, because neither with, nor without the PA,
will the Areas known as Areas A/B and Gaza ever become part of either
Israel or Jordan (Neither will accept them) !!

De-recognizing the PA, might make life in the Areas A/B more like the "closed-off" Gaza, but either way will NOT make Areas A/B and Gaza into a real state !!

20 ) Mel / USA
10/05/2012 19:03
#13:LOL! I was going to ignore your comments,LOL!But I have to "applaud" you on your level of extreme stupidity,ignorance &abject denialism! You sound JUST like the Nazi movement in 1930's Germany,describing the JEWISH people.How quintessentially,ignorantly racist & globally,politically,ignorant! Bravo,for sinking to such LOW racist levels.Sieg Heil dude! Wait,don't tell me? You're designing a sign,in Hebrew,that translates to 'Arbeit Macht Frei'? Pff!

21 ) Elijah / PA
15/05/2012 22:54
Most Palistinians would rather live in a democratic Israel than be pawns between Iran Mullahs and Al Saud. We are victims of PLO, of Hamas, of Hizbullah. Many Palistinians joined with Israelis when they threw out the British. The British pitted us against each other for decades. But Israel did not throw us out. Our leaders did because joining with radical Islamists we have been ammunition since 1948.
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