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Palestinian PM unveiled plan for de facto state

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 11:23:23 AM,

Fayyad, right, said the Palestinians needed to change their approach after years of talks [AFP]

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Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, has unveiled a plan for building the institutions and infrastructure of an independent state.

The ambitious 65-page document calls for a new international airport in the Jordan Valley and rail links to neighbouring states, as well as changes to the economy that would free it from its reliance on Israel.


"The Palestinian government is struggling determinedly against a hostile occupation regime ... in order to establish a de facto state apparatus within the next two years," Fayyad announced in the West Bank on Tuesday.

"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."


The objectives set out in the plan are aimed to be implemented over the next two years and would effectively create a de facto functioning Palestinian state, with or without the co-operation of Israel.


Al Jazeera's Nour Odeh, reporting from Ramallah, said: "What he is trying to do, according to his close aides, is first of all show that the Palestinians are pro-active ... that they are working to be ready for sovereignty.


"And at the same time send a very clear message to all those that have said that the Palestinians have done enough to prepare themselves to govern, to fulfil their security obligations and so on."


The Palestinians want an independent state on all the territories occupied by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war, with East Jerusalem as its capital.


But Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has refused to commit to beginning negotiations on a two-state solution.

Talks between the two sides have been stalled since Israel launched a 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip last December, which killed at least 1,400 Palestinians.


Nir Hefetz, Netanyahu's spokesman, said on Monday that a "political process" is "due to begin in about two months' time".


However, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has said any resumption of talks must be accompanied by a pledge to halt settlement activity in the occupied West Bank. 

The US has been pushing for a freeze on settlement activity, but so far Netanyahu has refused to commit and officials said that there was "no breakthrough" expected when the Israeli prime minister met Gordon Brown, his British counterpart, on Tuesday.


Foreign investment
The Palestinian plan speaks of building infrastructure, securing energy sources and water, as well as improving housing, education, and agriculture.


It also states that the size of the government should be trimmed and the legal system, which is currently a mix of British, Jordanian, Israeli and Ottoman laws, be unified.

The document contains few details of how the objectives will be achieved, but it does suggest that tax breaks will be offered for the foreign investment that would be desperately needed to get the plan off the ground.

"The government will work on encouraging investment in Palestine through offering tax cuts to local and foreign investors [and] will review investment regulations and remove obstacles that hinder investment," the Reuters news agency quoted the document as saying.

"Our national duty stipulates that we should do whatever we can to get our economy out of the cycle of dependency and alienation."

Naser Abdel Karim, an economist at Ramallah's Bir Zeit University, told Al Jazeera that the document was "very ambitious", but would ultimately struggle to improve the situation while Israeli restrictions remained on the Palestinian territories.


"Without addressing the issue of border closures and internal closures we cannot talk about a relief of Palestinian living conditions or changing the Palestinian economy," he said.


"The framework of Mr Fayyad has laid out exactly the right way. We need to end the occupation, but first we need to build a state, then end the occupation, then the Palestinian economy can prosper."








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