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Saturday, June 16, 2007




What's Next in the Land of the Mickey Mouse?

Abbas has replaced Haniyeh with Salam Fayyad who until now served as finance minister. Fayyad is probably the only bright spot in the Palestinian Disneyland right now. A free market economist, Fayyad has won his reputation as a dedicated reformer under the previous Palestinian government. Fayyad is also known to have never made secret of his pro Western orientation. In fact Fayyad made it very clear several times that he is looking for a warm peace with Israel. I have no idea if Fayyad has ever expressed his views on the right of return.

The two Palestines seem to be on diverging courses now. Under Fayyad and without Hamas, the West Bank chances to get the sanctions removed are good. Yet the eventual success depends on Abbas. If Abbas and Fatah continue with their shit, their rule in the WB may soon have its days numbered. Fatah has been convincingly defeated by Hamas in the last elections and this time it seems that the Palestinians have plainly got enough of armed militants wandering the streets, lawlessness and corruption. Unless Fatah gets hold of itself, no amount of American and Israeli weapons will save it from another humiliating defeat.

Fatah and the Palestinians in the West Bank have got another lease of life. The world seems to be ready to lift the sanctions and even rain economic assisstance on the government led by Fayyad who is one of the few Palestinian politicians commanding total respect and trust of the West. Abbas can give Fayyad the support he needs to start in the West Bank a bold program of economic reforms that in combination with Western aid may transform the place. A clampdown on militiamen is urgently needed though.

An alternative is for Fatah to obstruct Fayyad, or even better, to engage in internal infighting in an attempt to oust Abbas who is now becoming an object of new conspiracy theories that incriminate him in taking part in a secret plot of dividing the Palestinian nation between Egypt, Israel and Jordan. The end for Fatah in the West Bank may come as swiftly as it has happened in Gaza. Fatah should know that its actions in the West Bank would be compared to Gaza where the servants of Mickey the Rahman and Rahim may soon achieve something the fundamentalists are so good at - restoring order. Fatah should also know that its opponents in the strip have a strong, ideologically committed and largely corruption free leadership. Hamas has demonstrated its clear preference for technocratism in the last elections when its list of university teachers, engineers and doctors delivered a crushing blow to the Fatah list dominated by the party nomenclature.

For the Palestinians it's almost as if they have got their last chance to renounce the madness of uninterrupted resistance and martyrdom and try instead to create a normal society oriented on economic and social reforms in the West Bank. If the West Bank fails to rise to the challenge the consequences are hard to predict as it's hard to see how it can get much worse than it is already.

Salam Fayyad, the Man to the Task

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