While Palestinian dictator Mahmoud Abbas reportedly offers parts of Palestine to the Jewish state – an unelected man with no legitimate credentials, just how Washington and Tel Aviv likes it – nobody serious (except some gullible New York Times commentators) actually believes the Palestinian Authority has any real power to bring change:
Since June 2007 — and the split of the Palestinian Authority in two halves, one running Gaza and one running the West Bank – U.S. policy has banked heavily on an attempt to back the West Bank half, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. When the Obama administration took office in January 2009, it doubled down on the U.S. bet on Abbas and Fayyad. Fayyad has responded with an ambitious program that is designed to provide the institutional basis for a Palestinian state. His unassuming style, honest and capable administration, and sometimes soothing words have led to a host of international paeans to “Fayyadism.” Salam Fayyad is held to be quietly building a Palestinian state rather than waiting for international actors to deliver one.
There is no doubt that Fayyad as an individual has some real virtues: a measure of personal integrity, an ability to convey an attitude that politics is about public service rather than personal aggrandizement, and a shift from revolutionary rhetoric to practical action. But is Fayyadism building a Palestinian state?
And in a recent trip to the West Bank, I could not find a Palestinian who thinks he is. I report more fully on my findings in a commentary for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that was released today.
There are those who admire and participate in Fayyad’s efforts to be sure. And there is much to admire in Fayyad. But even those participating in his project would be the first to admit — along with Fayyad himself — that the effort cannot be sustained unless it is supported by a diplomatic process that also points to Palestinian statehood. And nobody believes there is such a viable process right now. The only question that most serious observers debate is whether hope for a two state solution is dead, dying, or merely in hibernation.