The Palestinian Authority intends to bypass the stalled peace negotiations and establish its own de facto state within two years, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told The Times on Monday.
On the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's talks in London with British counterpart Gordin Brown, Fayyad told the British daily that the idea was to “end the occupation, despite the occupation”.
“After 16 years (of failed peace talks) why not change the discourse?" Fayyad was quoted by The Times as saying. “We have decided to be proactive, to expedite the end of the occupation by working very hard to build positive facts on the ground, consistent with having our state emerge as a fact that cannot be ignored. This is our agenda, and we want to pursue it doggedly.”
According to the Palestinian PM, if a functioning de facto state existed — with or without Israeli cooperation — including competent security forces, functioning public services and a thriving economy, it would force Israel to put its cards on the table as to whether it was serious about withdrawing from the West Bank. He hoped that this goal could be achieved by mid-2011, The Times reported.
“It is empowering to even think that way,” Fayyad said in the interview.
The Times report said Fayyad has spent the past two years — since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip by force — wooing investors to the West Bank and building up professional security forces, trained under British and American supervision.
He told the British daily that the days of mutual recriminations were over and that both sides must commit to the 2003 "Road map" peace initiative, whereby Israel would freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and the Palestinians curb the activities of terror groups.
“What is required is greater clarity and greater accountability,” he said, noting that the activity of the Palestinian security forces proved the PA was holding up its end of the bargain. Fayyad said that it was time for the Israelis to do the same and rejected Netanyahu’s attempts to secure a compromise on allowing settlement construction that is already under way to be continued.
Fayyad told The Times that it was vital for all Israeli construction in the West Bank to stop, adding that the international community considered all settlement of civilians on land occupied during war, such as the West Bank, to be illegal.
“All that is expected is for Israel to refrain from the violation of international law,” he was quoted as saying.
Fayyad said that time was running out on peace. “The horizon continues to recede,” he added, stating that even as negotiations have been going on in the past 16 years, more Palestinian land was being taken over.
“It’s not that we’re at a standstill. It’s not that settlement activity is frozen pending a resolution. Settlement activity continues, wall construction continues, confiscation of Palestinian land continues, home demolitions in Jerusalem continue,” he said.