Fayyad’s Shadow: Smotrich’s Ongoing Apprehension    

The committee responsible for foreign affairs and defense in the Knesset held a session last Wednesday to discuss ‘the Palestinian Authority’s takeover of open areas in Judea and Samaria, and the Israeli response.’ This session has brought to light Smotrich’s ongoing concerns about Fayyad’s plan and its potential impact on Israeli interests.

The committee’s chairman began the meeting by saying: ‘Anyone who has visited [the area] and witnessed Fayyad’s plan in action cannot remain without a bad impression. On the surface, it seems chaotic, where everyone does what they see fit in their eyes, but in reality, this is an organized and orchestrated plan to suppress the development of [Jewish] communities and seize control of transportation corridors. They do this not only in Area C but also in Areas A and B.” 

The Minister of Finance and Minister of Defense, Itamar Smotrich observes Fayyad’s plan and expresses concern about the Israeli government’s lack of attentiveness to its strategic impact on the political and security levels. He believes the plan is an organized effort to suppress Jewish communities and gain control over transportation corridors. According to him, the Israeli response has not been formulated in an organized manner. Minister Smotrich explained: “How did we reach this situation where a reality is systematically created here, and we do nothing to confront it? The answer is the way the area is managed, almost exclusively by the Israeli Defense Forces and the Central Command. The military goal is to maintain security, and as a person living in the area, I am very grateful to the soldiers of the IDF and their leaders for that. This is their perspective, and they go to sleep and wake up in the morning with the mission of maintaining security, but civilian considerations are always secondary to security considerations, and the livelihood of half a million citizens there is affected.” 

 During Fayyad’s time as the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, he was known for the document “Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State.” This document played a significant role in preserving Area C and advancing the cause of statehood for Palestinians. From the excerpt, it appears that Smotrich is cautiously observing Fayyad’s plan and expressing concern about the Israeli governments’ lack of attentiveness to its strategic impact on the political and security levels. Despite more than a decade passing since the end of Salam Fayyad’s government, Smotrich sees that the plan may still have an impact on current developments and Israeli interests.

Therefore, he emphasizes the necessity of analyzing the situation and facing any potential challenges that arise from it. It seems that Salam Fayyad remains a concern for Smotrich, despite Fayyad leaving his position more than ten years ago, and the plan being discussed in the Knesset dates back to the years 2009-2011, which are definitely within the period when Fayyad served as the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority and was known for the document ‘Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State.’ On the other hand, what Fayyad achieved in preserving Area C seems to have been limited to his government only. 

It is somewhat astonishing and even ludicrous that Smotrich deals with Salam Fayyad as if he is still in office. The sad part of this story is that Smotrich understood since his time as the representative of ‘Ragevim‘ that Salam Fayyad was genuinely working towards achieving statehood by building institutions and protecting Area C from systematic settlement annexation and countering it with the tools of the international community. What has been seized without any effort except determination and sweat is the lives and livelihoods of the people in the threatened areas in Area C, confirming the reasons behind Israel’s insistence on this authority! 

A few years ago, I wrote an article in response to an article by Dr. Fayyad titled “Israeli Annexation Measures Require a Palestinian Response.” Fayyad built his ‘hope’ in that article on what was possible. According to him, ‘invoking the potential ability of the inclination based on the organization’s release from the obligations of the Palestine Liberation Organization, under the agreements and understandings […].

By declaring that the concept of inclining is applicable not only to the Oslo framework but also, in principle, to the transformation in the organization’s program that was actually adopted within the framework of the Palestinian peace initiative of 1988.” 

It can be described as fair when Dr. Fayyad said, “The Palestinian response to the Israeli annexation project is indeed a long-awaited national one, which is to reconsider the transformation in 1988, which also requires that merely the PLO’s release from the Oslo framework means abandoning the program it has actually adopted for thirty-two years without advancing an alternative vision that the Palestinian people can rally around, and it is very logical for them to expect the sole legitimate representative to reconsider it in light of what has happened to the Palestinian issue following the mentioned transformation.” 

That’s what I wrote at the time, and I repeat it now: “Unfortunately, we always go back to the starting point with our actions and statements, so the first action becomes the last. Meaning the recent statements may not have anything behind them other than themselves. The ongoing statements and workers’ actions towards the settlements have become the ‘backbone’ of this government, just like any other citizen who can be milked and exploited to maintain the government and its authority.

As for Salam Fayyad, it is even more regrettable that Smotrich understands his true value and national sentiment and still fights him as if he is fighting his own shadow.” Regavim has been instrumental in highlighting Smotrich’s preoccupation with the Fayyad plan. They have produced several articles and reports that shed light on the ongoing concerns surrounding Fayyad’s legacy and its implications. (see list of articles below). 

Salam Fayyad is for sure, the man who took the road less traveled. While on the other side, repeating the neoliberal buzzwords and bank loans whenever his name is mentioned by the Palestinians, and often Fayyadism loses the overwhelming flow of what it is meant to be. I wonder if we are living what we deserve. 


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