The end of the Fayyad era?

Matthew Duss writes: Since becoming secretary of State, indeed even during his confirmation hearings, John Kerry has made it clear that he places high priority on achieving a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and has spent the first months of his tenure exploring the possibilities for a reinvigorated peace process, stalled for the last three years.

Speaking Tuesday at a press conference at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, during his third visit to Israel-Palestine in as many weeks, Secretary Kerry confirmed that initiatives aimed at building the Palestinian economy would be a key component of the effort to restart peace talks.

“We are going to engage in new efforts, very specific efforts,” Kerry said, “to promote economic development and to remove some of the bottlenecks and barriers that exist with respect to commerce in the West Bank.” Economic growth, Kerry continued, “will help us be able to provide a climate, if you will, an atmosphere, within which people have greater confidence about moving forward.”

If you think this sounds familiar, you’re right. It’s the approach taken by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad over the past several years. He attempted to reform and develop the Palestinian economy, with a particular focus on greater transparency and accountability, in order create a sense of momentum among Palestinians toward statehood. In one of the surest signs of the Western intelligentsia’s blessing, the doctrine was endowed by The New York Times’ Tom Friedman with its own special title: “Fayyadism … the simple but all-too-rare notion that an Arab leader’s legitimacy should be based not on slogans or rejectionism or personality cults or security services, but on delivering transparent, accountable administration and services.”

Four years later, Fayyadism has foundered on the reality that economic development—genuine, sustainable economic development—is all but impossible amid the conditions of a hostile military occupation that the West Bank continues to experience under Israeli rule. [Continue reading…]

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