Op-Ed: The PA's Fayad is No Moderate
Throughout the month of August 2009 Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayad met with more than fifty members of the US Senate and US House of Representatives. In press conferences held by almost all American elected officials after meeting the American-educated Fayad, the consistent impression that they
Fayad frames Jerusalem as an illegal settlement.
conveyed was that Mr. Fayad represented a "moderate voice of leadership" for a future Palestinian state that could live alongside the state of Israel.
However, a group of Israeli peace groups received and distributed an English version of a position paper for a future Palestinian state that Mr. Fayad submitted at the end of August to the Middle East Quartet Negotiations Task Force, which includes the UN, the EU, the American government and the Russian government. Fayad's paper, "Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State: Program of the Thirteenth Government - August 2009", would seem to belie Fayad's image as a "moderate voice of leadership".
The preface to Fayad's paper introduces a Palestinian state that will strive for "peace, security and stability in our region on the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital." However, Fayad's 38-page position paper reads like a declaration of war, not of peace.
Fayad asserts that "Jerusalem" will be the capital of the Palestinian state, not "East Jerusalem". In case anyone was wondering if Fayad had made a typographical error by not mentioning "east" Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, Fayad repeats - ten times - that he means Jerusalem, all of Jerusalem. Fayad leaves nothing to the imagination, and writes that the Palestinian state will "protect Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Palestinian state," because, Fayad asserts, "Jerusalem is our people's religious, cultural, economic and political center. It is the Flower of Cities and Capital of Capitals. It cannot be anything but the eternal capital of the future Palestinian state."
Fayad goes on to claim that Jerusalem "is under threat" and that " the occupying authority is implementing a systematic plan to alter the city's landmarks and its geographical and demographic character in order to forcibly create facts on the ground, ultimately separating it from its Palestinian surroundings and eradicating its Arab Palestinian heritage."
Fayad further claims that "Palestinian life in Jerusalem is under daily attack through systematic violations perpetrated by the occupation regime," and that it is "the right and the duty of all Palestinians to protect their land, reject the occupation and defy its measures." The Palestinian state "bears special responsibility for nurturing our people's ability to persevere and protect their homeland."
Fayad adds that the Palestinian government will maintain its "unreserved commitment to defending the Arab character and status of Jerusalem.... The Government will continue to do all that is possible to achieve this goal. The Government will work with all organizations to preserve the landmarks of Jerusalem and its Arab Palestinian heritage, develop the city, and secure its contiguity with its Palestinian surroundings."
Fayad frames Jerusalem as an illegal settlement, postulating that "the occupying authority is pursuing its intensive settlement policy in and around Jerusalem.... The occupation regime has shut down our national institutions, neglected the development of Palestinian life, continued to demolish and evacuate Palestinian homes, and restricted access to sacred Christian and Islamic sites."
Fayad goes so far as to present a practical plan to Arabize Jerusalem. This involves maintaining Jerusalem as a top priority on his government's agenda and·"highlighting its predicament in the media. Launching a program to promote the steadfastness of Jerusalemites, including: strengthen Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem, providing financial support to help them deliver services to citizens."
Fayad reassures his readers that a future Palestinian state would not be satisfied with Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza as the national home for Palestinians. He says that the Palestinian government will continue to advocate for "Palestinian refugees in accordance with relevant international resolutions, and UN General Assembly Resolution 194 in particular," which mandates that Palestinian refugees and their descendants have a right to return to the homes and villages that Palestinians left during the 1948 war and its aftermath. "The refugee issue will remain under the jurisdiction of the PLO, through its Department of Refugees' Affairs... in a manner that does not exempt the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) from its responsibilities."
In the view of Fayad, UNRWA will therefore continue to confine Palestinian refugees a their descendants to the indignity of refugee camps, under the premise and promise of the "right of return".
Meanwhile, Fayad expresses full support for Palestinians who have been convicted of murder and attempted murder, saying that "the state also has an enduring obligation to care and provide for the martyrs, prisoners, orphans and all those harmed in the Palestinian struggle for independence." He simply cannot understand why Palestinians convicted of capital crimes should be jailed. "The continued detention of thousands of Palestinian detainees and prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention camps in violation of international law and basic human rights, is of great concern to all Palestinians," he explains. "Securing the freedom of all these heroic prisoners is an utmost Palestinian priority and it is a fundamental duty all Palestinians feel to honor their great sacrifices and
Fayad expresses full support for Palestinians who have been convicted of murder.
end their suffering." Fayad's Palestinian state will demand the "freedom of all Palestinian detainees and prisoners and will continue to strive to secure their liberty."
Fayad also asserts that the PLO abides by "all provisions of agreements signed with Israel"; yet, he forgets to mention that the PLO never ratified those agreements. On October 6, 1993, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat could not get a quorum for the PLO Executive to ratify the Oslo Accords he had signed with Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin on the White House lawn. On April 24, 1996, the Palestinian National Council refused to cancel the PLO Covenant or ratify a revised PLO Covenant, despite the PLO commitment to do so as an integral part of the Oslo Accords.
Fayad's view of justice is well articulated in this piece, when he states: "All Palestinians are equal before the law." Anyone who is not a Palestinian is therefore not equal.
Fayad declares that the Palestinian State will be an Islamic state. It will "promote awareness and understanding of the Islamic religion and culture and disseminate the concept of tolerance in the religion through developing and implementing programs of Shari'a education as derived from the science of the Holy Qur'an and Prophet's heritage."
In sum, Fayad concludes with a demand for a Palestinian state in the next two years, along the parameters that he has outlined, with all of Jerusalem as its capital; an Islamic Shari'a state that will campaign for all convicts to be freed, for all refugees to return to the homes and villages that they left in 1948.
A voice of moderation? It would be interesting to know if the peace groups that distributed Fayad's working paper ever bothered to read it.