Late last month, Salam Fayyad, the appointed Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister in Ramallah, made a surprise announcement: he declared his intention to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip before the end of 2011 regardless of the outcome of negotiations with Israel.
Fayyad told the London Times that he would work to build “facts on the ground, consistent with having our state emerge as a fact that cannot be denied.” His plan was further elaborated in a lengthy document grandly titled “Program of the Thirteenth Government of the Palestinian National Authority.”
The plan contains all sorts of ambitious ideas: an international airport in the Jordan Valley, new rail links to neighboring states, generous tax incentives to attract foreign investment, and of course strengthening the “security forces.” It also speaks boldly of liberating the Palestinian economy from its dependence on Israel, and reducing dependence on foreign aid.
This may sound attractive to some, but Fayyad has neither the political clout nor the financial means to propose such far-reaching plans without a green light from Washington or Tel Aviv. [continued…]
The accelerating pace of Jewish settlement expansion in East Jerusalem this year may spur violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the city and cripple new efforts by the Obama administration to kick-start peace talks, an Israeli anti-settlement group warned yesterday.
The “massive” construction being planned by Jewish settlers within Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem is likely to prompt clashes, said Yudith Oppenheimer, the executive director of Ir Amim, a Jerusalem-based advocacy group.
“There is a combination of factors, including settlers invading Palestinian neighbourhoods, already annoying with their presence and control of houses and land and their mass construction plans when, next door, Palestinian neighbours cannot even build a balcony because they do not get a permit. This creates the conditions for violence,” she said. [continued…]