The time has come to question such a characterization of Fayyad.
A case in point: In May 2009, our agency, the Center for Near East Policy Research, facilitated an informal briefing for staffers of the Middle East Subcommittee of the US Foreign Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives on the subject of the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA education. Journalist and scholar Dr. Arnon Groiss, who regularly translates new PA textbooks used in Palestinian Authority and UNRWA education, was featured at this briefing.
Dr. Groiss updated Congress on the content of the new PA texts, which:
- Deny the historical and religious presence of Jews in Palestine;
- Fail to recognize the State of Israel;
- Demonize Jews and Israel;
- Assign blame for the conflict exclusively on Israel, totally absolving Palestinians; and
- Stress the idea of a violent struggle of liberation rather than a peaceful settlement.
In August 2009, a delegation of fifty members from both sides of the aisle of the US House of Representatives met with Salam Fayyad when he was appointed prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.
Several members of Congress raised the issue of the Palestinian Authority schoolbooks with Fayyad, who assured the delegation that the school books would be changed for the new school year, which was just about to begin.
Hearing the report from the congressional delegation, our agency immediately dispatched a reporter to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority Education Minister Lamis Al Alami to ask her about the PA curriculum for the new semester.
We asked her about changes in the curriculum. Al Alami answered that she was under strict orders from Fayyad not to change anything in the curriculum.
Yet you would not be surprised by Fayyad’s real educational policy if you were to read Fayyad’s position paper for a future Palestinian state, available on the net here.
In that position paper, Fayyad spelled out his platform, in clear terms and in English.
Every embassy, consulate, and news outlet in the Middle East received a copy of Fayyad’s platform, entitled “Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State: Program of the Thirteenth Government.”
In his platform, Fayyad asserted that “Jerusalem” will be the Palestinian capital of the Palestinian state – with no mention of “East Jerusalem.”
In case anyone was wondering if Fayyad had made a typographical error by not mentioning “east” Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, Fayyad repeated — ten times — that he meant Jerusalem — all of Jerusalem.
Fayyad left nothing to the imagination, and wrote that the Palestinian state will “Protect Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Palestinian state,” because Fayyad asserted that:
“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. Jerusalem.”
Fayyad went 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.”
Fayyad further claimed 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,” adding that the Palestinian state “bears special responsibility for nurturing our people’s ability to persevere and protect their homeland.”
Fayyad added 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.”
Fayyad framed 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.”
Fayyad went on to present a practical plan to Arabize Jerusalem, by “Maintaining Jerusalem as a top priority on the Government’s agenda” and highlighting “its predicament in the media.”
Fayyad reassured his readers that a future Palestinian state would not be satisfied with Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza as the national home for Palestinians, and 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.
Fayyad reminded Palestinians that:
“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 Fayyad’s view, UNRWA will therefore continue to confine Palestinian refugees and their descendants to the indignity of refugee camps, under the premise and promise of the “right of return.”
Meanwhile, Fayyad expressed 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.”
Fayyad expressed a point of view indicating he could not understand why Palestinians convicted of capital crimes should be jailed.
Fayyad proclaimed that “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” and declared that “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 end their suffering.”
Fayyad also asserted that the PLO has signed “all provisions of agreements … with Israel,” yet forgot to mention that the PLO never ratified the signed agreements with Israel. On October 6, 1993, the now defunct Mapam newspaper Al HaMishmar’s correspondent in Tunis revealed that the late PLO chairman Yasser Arafat could not get a quorum for the PLO executive to ratify the Oslo Accords that Arafat had signed with Rabin on the White House lawn.
Fayyad’s view of justice was clearly presented in his position paper when he stated that “All Palestinians are equal before the law.” Simply put, anyone who is not a Palestinian is therefore not equal.
Fayyad also proclaimed that a future Palestinian State will be an Islamic state and that 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, Fayyad concluded with a demand for a Palestinian state in the next two years, along the parameters that he has outlined, with an Palestinian state that will have all of Jerusalem as its capital, in an Islamic Sharia state that will campaign for all convicts to be freed and for all refugees to return to the homes and villages that they left in 1948.
Was Fayyad a voice of reform and moderation?
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