October 8th, 2009 22:59 EST
Implications for the Palestinian Authority and Israel
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad`s Two-Year Path to Palestinian Statehood:
Dan Diker and Pinhas Inbari
In August 2009, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced a unilateral plan to establish a de facto Palestinian state in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem following a two-year state-building process. Fayyad`s plan is the first serious Palestinian outline of a state-building effort since the PLO was founded in 1964 and replaces the traditional PLO position of armed struggle to "liberate Palestine."
The Fayyad plan represents a bold anti-Fatah posture and is seen to pose a direct challenge to Fatah and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas. Fayyad enjoys only limited political backing and his political rivals, such as Tawfiq Tirawi, Abu Maher Gneim, and Mahmud al-Alul, who were recently elected to the new Fatah Central Committee, have already blasted Fayyad`s plans.
Israel supports "bottom up" Palestinian state-building. However, Israeli leaders have voiced legal and security-based concerns over Fayyad`s intention that the PLO would unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood in 2011 based on the June 4, 1967, lines. The one-sided establishment of a Palestinian state would contravene a key provision of the Oslo Interim Agreement, according to which: "Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status agreement."
Another direct challenge to Israel is that Fayyad`s "blueprint" calls for massive Palestinian development in Area "C" of the disputed West Bank, which is under Israeli civil and security control, and which directly challenges the delicate, agreed-upon framework of the 1993 Oslo accords.
Israel`s requirement of "defensible borders" involves its continuing control in Area "C," including the strategically vital Jordan Valley and the high ground surrounding Jerusalem and overlooking Israel`s vulnerable cities along the Mediterranean coast. Hizbullah`s 4,000 rocket attacks from the north in 2006 and Hamas` 10,000 rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, culminating in the 2009 Gaza war, both underscore the potential rocket threat against Israel`s cities that could emerge from a Palestinian state in the West Bank if Israel were to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines.
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*Dan Diker and Pinhas Inbari are senior foreign policy analysts at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.