27 August 2009 3 Comments

Can Palestinians step up to self-government?

Tax breaks, smaller government, a rationalized legal system? No, this is a long way from New Jersey. By Matt Beynon Rees, Global Post

RAMALLAH — More than two decades after declaring an independent state, the Palestinians now say they may be able to run one.

Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat declared an independent Palestinian state at a conference in Algiers in 1988. But in 2000, when presented with the basis for a state, he failed to agree to a final deal in negotiations with Israel. Current Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad unveiled a plan this week that would set up an independent state in the Palestinian areas in two years — whether Israel likes it or not.

“We must confront the whole world with the reality that Palestinians are united and steadfast in their determination to remain on their homeland, end the occupation and achieve their freedom and independence,” Fayyad said at a press conference in Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority has its seat of government. “We will be the initiators and set up a de facto Palestinian state.”

Fayyad, as U.S.-educated economist, has been urging other Palestinian politicians to end the civil strife between the Fatah Party, which effectively governs the West Bank, and the Islamists of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Privately he has said for some time that the Palestinians need to be seen to be governing themselves, rather than stumbling along at Israel’s whim.

That feeble appearance had been particularly strong since peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel broke down during the war in Gaza at the turn of the year. Since then, the Palestinians have refused to negotiate until Israel halts all building in its West Bank settlements.

At first the U.S. seemed to support that position and the Palestinians settled back to watch Israel’s new right-wing government sweat. But the Israelis have brazened it out, so that international politicians now appear to accept the idea that Israel can continue to build in its settlements provided that it doesn’t expand their boundaries.

After a meeting in London on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown accepted what Israelis call “natural growth” in the settlements. “They need kindergartens and houses for their families,” Brown said. “This doesn’t mean it’ll take up more West Bank territory.”

Perhaps Brown thinks the Israelis are planning to build new floors on top of existing homes in the West Bank. Anyone who’s watched the settlements expand knows that more West Bank territory is precisely what’ll be swallowed up as long as Israel doesn’t promise an absolute freeze. But Brown’s declaration demonstrates the formula international leaders are using to back down from their earlier pressure on Israel.

It’s clear to Fayyad and the more realistic Palestinian politicians that they’ve lost the initiative that seemed to be with them in June when President Barack Obama called for a settlement freeze. His 65-page plan is an attempt to regain that lost impetus.

Fayyad’s statehood plan includes an international airport, a sea cargo terminal, and an oil refinery.

If that state sounds more like New Jersey than Palestine, then wait until you hear the Americanized ideology behind it.

Fayyad says he wants to cut Palestine’s dependence on foreign aid by giving tax breaks to encourage foreign investment. He wants smaller government and a rationalized legal system.

Without Fayyad’s imprimatur, you’d have to say the plan was total bunk. After all, these are the same Palestinians who wasted most of the $4 billion in foreign aid they received during the decade after signing the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, siphoning much of it off into corrupt projects and secret bank accounts.

I take that back. They aren’t the same Palestinians. They’re much worse off.

These days the putative Palestinian state is divided. Fayyad can only claim control over the West Bank. Hamas has Gaza, and they aren’t buying into his plan.

Sami Abu Zohari, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said Wednesday that Fayyad’s regime was “illegal” and the plan needs to be approved by the Palestinian parliament, which Hamas controls. Other Hamas officials in Gaza said that independence could only be achieved by “resistance” to Israel.

Such fiery declarations often go down well with Palestinians angered by Israel’s continued occupation. But Fayyad has made a success of small, boring measures, and Palestinians have come to appreciate that, too.

A former World Bank and International Monetary Fund official, he replaced the Hamas prime minister in June 2007, when the Islamists ran Fatah out of Gaza. Which is why Hamas thinks his position is illegal.

Since then, Fayyad has instituted economic reforms aimed at reducing corruption and waste. He has pushed security reforms, with the help of a U.S. adviser, so successfully that Israeli military chiefs cut 41 checkpoints in the West Bank recently, allowing much easier movement for ordinary Palestinians.

So does Fayyad have a chance?

First, if he hadn’t done this, then it was becoming clear the Palestinians might have waited a long time for any change of heart from the Israeli government. At this week’s Israeli cabinet meeting, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermann noted that it was 16 years since the Oslo Accords were signed.

“It will be impossible in the next 16 years to bridge the gaps on Jerusalem, on the refugees, or on Israel as a Jewish state,” he added.

Second, Fayyad’s plan is a way for those Palestinians who reject violence to chart a path that will give ordinary West Bankers a political alternative to the corrupt power of the militias. If it’s a success, it might also force Hamas to come out of its isolation, making peace with Fatah to get a piece of the action.

A true Palestinian state in two years may seem about as easy to achieve as universal health care for U.S. citizens. But aspects of Fayyad’s plan may be in place by 2011 to improve the lives of Palestinians, whether their state is a reality or not. After all, at his press conference Fayyad pledged to provide state housing and education for all Palestinians.

He also promised free health care.

3 Responses to “Can Palestinians step up to self-government?”

  1. Anonymous 2 September 2009 at 7:02 pm #

    Ours is an envionment where evil is perceived to be rewarded while good is punished. As with everything the Gods have a reason for creating this perception::::
    People who fall on the good side of the good/evil scale have more favor, and when they do something wrong the Gods punish them BECAUSE THEY WANT THEM TO LEARN. The Gods want them to receive this feedback in hope they make corrections and begin to behave appropriately. The Gods DON'T like evil and refuse to grant this feedback.
    EVERYBODY pays for what they do wrong, only evil people must wait until their next life before they will experience the wrath of the Gods, manifested in their reincarnation as a lower form of life into environments with increased/enhanced temptations.
    Sadly, this allows the Gods to position this perception of evil rewarded as temptation, one which they use as an EXTREMELY effective corruptor.

    Both Africa and the Medittereanean are regions which have sexual issues. This is a sign of morbid disfavor once you understand that females are the God's favored gender. Muhammad's (Mohammed's) polygamy halfway through his life as a prophet was preditory. Now a huge percentage of Muslims believes in male superiority and that the abuse of women is God's will. Female genital mutilation is still practiced in Africa. Black misogyny is the most eggregious example in the recent past.
    Black member size is temptation to a predisposed population.
    The patriarchal cancer spread throughout Europe because of Christianity, of which the majority of policy makers were Italian men. Expect the largest landowner in Europe and the continent's original superpower also played a major role in African slavery.

    Militancy in Africa is consistant with the Iraqi example, as was slavery and the KKK here in America:::Fear enforces proper behavior. Without it we see what happens as a result of gross/morbid disfavor:::::AIDS, crack babies, dead young men in gangland retaliation killings. This is the purpose behind many black's historical tendancy towards resistance.
    The same principle was true in Europe and throughout the world for centuries:::People whom lived under iron fists were conditioned to think the right way. As a result they experienced higher numbers of children accend into heaven because they were taught to think and behave appropriately, which they passed on to their children. Our preditory envionment of "freedom" was the primary purpose the Gods had when implimenting this strategy that is the United States, one which they used to spred the cancer of democracy and westernization throughout the world. And the Gods use this tool that is America to prey on the disfavored both at home and abroad:::Much like the ghetto, America in general experiences a heightened level of temptation due to the people's disfavor.

    Even the Old Testiment is not to be taken literally, but the Gods do offer clues throughout to help the disfavored:::The apple is a tool of temptation used to corrupt Adam and Eve and cast them out of the Garden of Eden.
    There is another lesson to be learned from this passage, and it is quite similar to the vailing issue and the discourse over women's attire which ultimately died in the 70s:::Women are responsible for and control the fate of mankind.

    Think about what I say. Consider what I teach. Society is going to become disturbingly ugly as we approach the Apocalypse due to spiralling, runaway disfavor.
    I do not know when this will occurr, but it is the God's way to grant some time before they end on Planet Earth.
    Make the decision to always be good and never look back. Until you do this technology will employ tactics to test your resolve:::Ridicule, beligerance, doubt and refusal to abandon what people perceive to be their "investment".
    Pray daily. Think appropriately. Too many are confident, unaware of the God's awesome powers or their status as antients. Others may fall prey to their positioning.
    Be humbled, God-fearing and beware of the God's temptations, for everyone is tested to evaluate their worthiness.
    Search rest

  2. stop fascism 24 April 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    Great article, I owe something to my friend who recommended.

  3. Matt Beynon Rees 25 April 2011 at 3:54 am #

    Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it…and if you’re coming to the blog now, you’ve got lots of other articles to catch up on 😉

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