Davos, Asharq Al-Awsat- Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was clearly emotional as he spoke about the tragic situation in the Gaza Strip, saying “The situation cannot continue as it is.”
In an exclusive interview with Asharq al-Awsat, Fayyad stressed that the crossing points ought to be opened, especially Rafah crossing point, and they ought to be organized “not in the same way we saw in the recent period.”
“I have no doubt that this closure is Israel’s work, but there are several sides responsible for it, including the European Union and the United States.” Fayyad told Asharq al-Awsat.
He added that” These sides ought to shoulder their responsibility at Rafah crossing point.” and that “There is a state of tension that cannot continue.”
Fayyad stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the minimum necessities for living do not exist under the siege and that the solution is to open the crossing points in an organized way.
Fayyad has been attending the World Economic Forum, where the Palestinian issue occupied a significant part of the activities of the annual forum, especially as the Quartet Envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair is one of the most prominent leaders of the forum this year. The focusing on the economic aspect has been clear, together with the calls for making the Bethlehem conference of last April succeed. While stressing the importance of revitalizing the Palestinian economy Fayyad did not try to downplay the volume of the challenges facing the Palestinians. He also stressed that the talk about the importance of the economy was not compatible with the events on the ground, especially “the obstructions to movement, whether it is the movement of people or the movement of goods.”
At the conference, Blair is trying to mobilize the support of private and international corporations to invest in Palestine.
In reply to a question about the conference in Bethlehem, Fayyad said, “It is not realistic to think that an economic leap forward will take place immediately after the Annapolis and Paris conferences.” He added, that “The main problem is the obstructions to movement, especially in Gaza, where the obstruction is complete, or nearly complete.” Fayyad explained that the situation in the West Bank was not much better “as there are hundreds of barriers that obstruct movement, and do not allow the economic leap forward.” Fayyad continued, “There are 250 projects being implemented.” He stressed that Palestine “needs a real economic transformation, but the development must be sustainable.” Fayyad added that he wanted the focus to be on the infrastructure.
Fayyad participated in a special session about the future of the peace process after the Annapolis conference in the United States. In that session Fayyad was the only Palestinian representative alongside Israeli President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Defense Minister Ehud Baraq. Peres talked in detail about “the changes in the Palestinian issue during the past 15 years. There was no international recognition of the Palestinian people as we see it now. After the Oslo agreement we have acquired a partner, and the Palestinian people have acquired recognition of their legitimacy as a people.” Peres added: “We agreed the future limits, and we were hoping to achieve more during the past years than we have.”
In his turn, Fayyad stressed “the importance of implementing the pledges we made in April 2003,” at the forefront of which “opening the crossing points and allowing freedom of movement.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Livni exploited the opportunity of addressing the session to call for confronting Iran. Livni talked about the religious extremism only on one side, i.e. the Palestinian side, without referring to the problems imposed by Israel. She added, “The terrorist Hamas represents this, but it does not stand alone, because there is a larger threat in the region, namely the Iranian threat.” Livni considered, “Iran influences our ability to put an end to the conflict with the Palestinians, because the Iranian threat weakens the moderate regimes, and calls for erasing Israel from the map.” In a lengthy address, Livni stressed, “Iran is a threat to the world. You can take the decision and stop Iran, or put up with the nuclear threat that threatens the entire world.” In her address, Livni concluded by stressing, “Putting an end to the dispute between the two countries depends on giving the Palestinian people their state.” However, she added, “We cannot allow the establishment of a terrorist state, or an extremist Islamic country; we need a government that fights terrorism.”