PM plans for de facto state within two years

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad wants to establish a de facto Palestinian state within two years, bypassing the stalled peace process, he told The Times newspaper in an interview


AFP - The Palestinian Authority plans to bypass the stalled Mideast peace talks and establish its own de facto state within two years, Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad said Tuesday.

Fayyad said the Palestinian Authority would push ahead with building a de facto state that included having competent security forces, functioning public services and a thriving economy.

"After 16 years (of failed peace talks) why not change the discourse?" Fayyad told The Times newspaper in an interview.

"We have decided to be proactive, to expedite the end of the occupation by working very hard to build positive facts on the ground, consistent with having our state emerge as a fact that cannot be ignored.

"This is our agenda, and we want to pursue it doggedly."

He said that if a functioning de facto state existed -- with or without Israeli co-operation -- it would force Israel to put its cards on the table on whether it was serious about ending the occupation of the West Bank.

He hoped that this goal could be achieved by mid-2011.

Fayyad's comments came ahead of talks in London between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell.

US President Barack Obama's administration has been pressing for a freeze on Israeli settlement construction as a key step towards reviving peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Netanyahu rejects a total freeze, but has agreed to a temporary halt in inviting construction tenders for Israeli homes in the occupied West Bank, which Obama called a step in the right direction.

Fayyad said that it was vital for all such building in the West Bank stop.

The peace talks were halted last December when Israel launched a deadly offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

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