“There is not going to be a unilateral declaration of statehood,” Salam Fayyad tells The Jerusalem Post in an important new article. The notion that the Palestinian Authority can construct enough of an infrastructure to enable a unilateral declaration of independence is known, informally, as the Fayyad Plan, because in the past the Palestinian prime minister, whom no less than Israeli President Shimon Peres has called the “Palestinian Ben-Gurion,” has seemed to advocate it. Apparently not. But he does wish to change facts and minds on the ground: “A solid majority of Palestinians support a two-state solution, but only a minority believe it will actually happen,” he adds. “Our plan is to create the sense that a Palestinian state is inevitable.”
Fayyad also opposes the “one-state solution.” Instead, he is a peace process-nik: “It is something that will grow on both sides as a reality,” he argues, “creating a belief that this was inevitable through the process, a convergence of two paths.”
Whether or not Fayyadism ends in unilateral independence, it clearly involves state-building. (It also involves boycotting settlement products, which frankly has probably been Fayyad’s most successful project to date.) The problem is, as a recent study from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace reported, Fayyad’s Cabinet is largely failing to create the structures we associate with states; and where it has, it has done so in an undemocratic manner, which in turn undermines Palestinian Authority rule and could lend Hamas popular support.
Hamas is the elephant in the room of talk of a West Bank state, much as Hamas-led Gaza is the elephant in the room of talk of a Palestinian state. “I think that all sides to the conflict, including the US.., are trying to buy time,” a Hebrew University professor tells the Post. “That’s essential to making sure that Hamas cannot take over.”
So what is Fayyadism? Perhaps it is keeping Hamas at bay in the West Bank until other facts can change and stronger momentum—or any momentum at all—can be summoned for something resembling a viable peace process.