Birzeit hosts leaders to discuss feasibility of Fayyad plan

By Ma’an – 11 Nov 2009

Ramallah – The Palestinian Institute for Politics and Strategic Studies held a brainstorming session Tuesday to discuss logistics of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s plan of establishing a state in two years.

Principal of Birzeit University Nabil Qassis headed the session, opening with comments marking the serious agenda Fayyad put forward, calling the plan a “serious agenda,” and a “turning point in the way the [Palestinian Authority] PA thinks.” No longer, he said, is the “occupation a pretext for failure.”

The three-hour session saw professionals, politicians, community officials and members of parliament focus on the possibilities and drawbacks of Fayyad’s “Palestine: Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State,” released on 25 August 2009. Central among the discussion was whether or not Fayyad’s plan needed popular support, and whether or not it would get it.

Deputy Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Abd Ar-Rahim Mallouh said “Fayyad threw a big stone in the quiet political puddle,” with the release of the report. He described the report as one that bridges the political gap in Palestinian politics, and one that can also bridge what was supposed to be a transitional period ending in 1999, instead ending in 2011.

The drawback of the plan, Mallouh said, was that there cannot be an independent Palestinian state that is under Israeli occupation. “A Palestinian state must reach an agreement with Israel” in order to lay aside the paradox, he said. Unless an agreement is reached, he added, the plan could be successful in Gaza, but not the West Bank.

Dr Mustafa Barghouthi, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, described the plan as essentially “national duty” in its aims to realize Palestinian freedoms, the right of return and the right to Jerusalem. “All of these ideas are acceptable to Palestinians,” he said, and said he thought the plan should see popular support.

“We should be aware that statehood is not dependent on the occupation’s will; we have to adopt the same means of peaceful resistance as in the first Palestinian Intifada, and we must breach our commitment to the Oslo division of the Palestinian territories into A, B, and C zones. We must build foundations in all zones, and start free trade internationally,” Barghouthi said.

Bassam As-Salihi, secretary-general of the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) called Fayyad’s plan a sort of “Plan B” to replace the Oslo Accords. “The PLO and the PA have failed in their previous strategy which led to a cycle of peace negotiations,” he said, but criticized Fayyad’s plan for failing to claim all of a Palestinians state on the whole of the lands occupied by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem.

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