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Saturday April 3, 2010 11:15 AM (EST+7)
READ: 'A state in 2011' says PM Fayyad

Read more: Palestinian statehood, Salam Fayyad, settlements, Jerusalem, US policy, US foreign policy

RAMALLAH, April 3 (JMCC) - Palestinian Prime Minister tells the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Palestinians plan to declare their state in 2011. In this interview, he addresses the issue of Israeli settlements and the division that remains between the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Q: Are the American demands of Israel moving us in the right direction? Do you agree with the argument that putting an end to our conflict will help to contain Iran?

A: The conflict of the region is not about us at all; it's between radicals and moderates. It is clear to me that ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is an American national interest. The world should be able to do what they want to do to help - in their own interest as well but they can't do it.

The issue should not be looked at as if the United States wants to take a position, it is doing so to favor the Palestinians, at the expense of Israelis. And for the U.S. to succeed it should not be the other way around, either. Basically, for the world to succeed in helping us get to where we want, both sides should be held accountable.

Q: Officials around Netanyahu keep arguing that you are using the settlement issue to avoid a negotiated agreement and gain time until the international community imposes your plan on Israel.

A: This is one way in which this government attempts to trivialize the issue, as if it's a question of taking turns - that we Palestinians somehow just woke up to this reality and decided to make it an issue.

If the whole world is unable to secure something as basic as stopping this, preventing this from continuing to happen, how sure can we be the political process, once relaunched, will be capable of delivering on those bigger, permanent issues? It is a question of credibility.

Anyone would be a fool to say that it was right for us to accept a situation that we were not able to stop the expansion of the settlements during negotiations. In hindsight, that is obvious. But a lot of things were not expected in the euphoria of 1993.

Q: According to your information, is there a real moratorium on settlement activity in the West Bank? A: All indications show that it's not working. There was a serious flaw in the moratorium itself, before the 1,600 units in Ramat Shlomo and even before the Gilo affair. That underscored the deep flaw associated with the moratorium concept that was put forward by the Israeli government.

We knew from the beginning that excluding East Jerusalem from the moratorium concept would become a problem, a flaw associated with that.

Essentially the way the moratorium concept was put forward, in the way Jerusalem is defined by Israel, is a loophole. It is certainly not something that is taken seriously by the government of Israel. It should be, and yet it is contrived that the Palestinians looked for an issue - to use it as a pretext not to negotiate.

Q: How do you get out of this? No Israeli leader could promise to stop building in East Jerusalem.

A: A way can be found, particularly since the inherent structure of weakness associated with the moratorium concept that was proposed by Netanyahu was exposed.

At some point somebody has to stand up and assume responsibility for what's going on. Isn't that what is expected of us Palestinians?

We need to lift each other up, not drag each other down. You need a full understanding of where the other side is coming from. I maintain that we have that, we understand that these are completely different, diametrically opposed narratives. I don't expect, ever, for our narrative to be accepted by Israel, but likewise, for Netanyahu to say that the Israeli historical narrative is basis for a just settlement, is expecting too much.

Read the entire article at Haaretz...






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