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From Bad to Worse

A week ago, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad, resigned. This was another tragedy for the Palestinianes in the effort the create their own state. Tom Friedman in the NYTimes (April 24) analyzes the consequences in these "Four Takeaways.""1. For Palestinians, particularly Abbas and Fatah, who so easily turned their most effective executive into a scapegoat, if there is no place for a Salam Fayyad-type in your leadership, an independent state will forever elude you."2. Hamas and the Israeli settlers are both really happy today. Fayyads aim to build a decent Palestinian state in the West Bank, at peace with Israel, was a huge threat to both of them. They both prefer permanent struggle so they both can claim there is no one to talk to on the other side and, therefore, they never have to change policies."3. Thanks, American Congress and Israeli government. Your mindless, repeated cutoffs of cash to Fayyads government helped undermine the best Palestinian peace partner Israel and the U.S. ever had. Nice job."4. 'There is nothing inevitable about a liberal order emerging from any of these Arab awakenings,' argues the pollster Craig Charney. Indeed, to produce that outcome takes someone like a Fayyad with the consistent help of external parties as well as a loyal base at home ready to see it through. In the end, Fayyad had neither. Add another nail in the coffin of the two-state solution."

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.

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If an independent state and peace are so dependent upon a single person, what does that say? There should be a whole population of people who are able to step into that role if Palestine is ready for peace. Peace and a sovereign state require that all of the people be on board, not merely one person.

The situation does indeed go from bad to worse. For example, Yanoun is a small village near Nablus which has been threatened by takeover for years. The WCC arranged for Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAPPI) to maintain a presence inb the village to reassure the villagers and report any incidents that may arise. I have visited this poor agricultural hamlet three times. The settlers do live very close by, and many village families have moved, afraid for their safety.This email came from a friend this morning."Yanoun is being gobbled up. The Itamar Jewish settlement has expanded since i was last here about 2 years ago. From all sides and surrounding Yanoun there are new constructions, new outposts getting closer and closer to the village. Fences are going up taking more and more of Yanoun land; less space to graze the sheep and goats which are the main livelihood of this hamlet. Farmers have to buy food for their animals at great cost to survive. Only 6 families are left, there are now 7 empty houses. The houses are old and decrepit, they leak in the rain and the remaining Yanounis are not allowed to build new ones, Yanoun is in area C....poverty and resignation all round....I am shocked. Today i saw the Yanoun EA team (Ecumenical accompanier) depart in tears, a new one is due tomorrow, i am here to provide cover during this transition. Attachment to Yanoun is always intense; we live for three months in close proximity to the families, sharing their worries and joys and then it is time to go home wondering if the village will survive another year.Despite all this, the place is ,as always, magical; red poppies are in the fields, the sun is warming my bones, i am speaking Arabic and it is Akadeniah season (Nefles for the French, Medlars for the Brits) they taste divine. And there is of course the enormous Arabic hospitality; we had breakfast and dinner at Adla (the oldest woman of the village) afternoon tea (very sweet) in another 4 houses and we are invited for breakfast tomorrow (fried cheese, cucumber, olives, Zaatar and fresh taboon bread) in 3 different houses... we will have to eat it all and leave for Sabastiya pot bellied to face another round of invitations!!!Let's hope for a quiet night with no settlers shinanigans, i am feeling quite vulnerable, they are too close for comfort." [end]When ordinary people have to live in such circumstances, what chance is there to establish a working, viable democratic state?

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