Obama ‘gave up,’ Fayyad says (as Bennett declares there’s no room here for a Palestinian state)

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“After the failed attempt to stop Israeli settlement expansion, the administration gave up,” Salam Fayyad tells Roger Cohen of the New York Times.

While Bennett gave his maiden speech in the Knesset. From Haaretz:

In his first address to the Knesset, Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett on Tuesday rejected any possibility of an agreement that would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

“There’s no place in our small and stunning piece of God’s country for another state,” he said. “It won’t happen. But friends, before any debate about territory, it must be said: The Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. Now let’s argue.”

And a long excerpt from the Roger Cohen on Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, in which he says that governance is impossible in the West Bank and that the Obama administration “gave up” on a Palestinian state. (Note that Fayyad’s litany of recent abuses is identical to the catalog that Annie Robbins has detailed). Cohen:

Or, as a disillusioned member of the outgoing Netanyahu government put it to me: “The world does not believe we are serious about two states because of the settlement policy. If we are building all over the place, where is the Palestinian state?”

Fayyad sees a de facto attempt to undermine the Palestinian Authority. “I still believe the Authority is a key building block in the effort to resolve the conflict,” he said. “Then somebody needs to explain to me how something viewed as central to building peace is left on the ropes for three years, reeling under bankruptcy, and every action is taken to erode its political viability.

“We have sustained a doctrinal defeat. We have not delivered. I represent the address for failure. Our people question whether the P.A. can deliver. Meanwhile, Hamas gains recognition and is strengthened. This is the result of nothingness. It is not just that we have been having a bad day.”

Part of that “nothingness” emanated from Obama’s Washington. “After the failed attempt to stop Israeli settlement expansion, the administration gave up,” Fayyad told me. “After the first year in office, U.S. diplomacy shifted to maintenance — getting a process going rather than looking at the issues.”

So there has been negative drift, largely peaceful but increasingly uneasy. “The risk this situation poses is of sliding back to a cycle of violence,” Fayyad said. “When you keep getting banged on the head, you know one day it will be one bang on the head too many.”

He identified some of the issues: settlement expansion; Israeli military incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas; the failure to extend the Palestinian security presence in the West Bank; the “complex and capricious” process of gaining access to the more than 60 percent of the West Bank known as “Area C” and under direct Israeli military control; the Israeli use of tax revenues as a spigot that can be turned on and off to hurt the Palestinian Authority; the lack of access to 3G technology and Israeli control of frequencies; the difficulty of exporting to Israel. All of these factors together, Fayyad said, had made governance “an exercise in impossibility.”

Thanks to Ilene Cohen.

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