“I'm Not Going To Go Away”
An interview with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
L.W.: So you don't see movement toward a two-state solution?
S.F.: It has been very difficult over the past two years. We have been stuck over the issue of continued settlement expansion, with that being a major obstruction to a resumption of talks. In this most recent round of activity, an effort is being exerted to see if there are some possibilities. I think to try is better than not to.
L.W.: Do you worry about Syria?
S.F.: Of course. The tragedy in Syria is the slaughtering of the people and the bloodshed. But there are ramifications that extend beyond Syria.
L.W.: What would you like to see the United States do?
S.F.: Many people think it is a matter of days or weeks for [President Bashar al-]Assad to go. What they don't think about is the world as he himself sees it. You are not looking at someone who thinks his days are numbered, or else he wouldn't be doing what he is doing. You are looking at someone who thinks that he has a shot at survival. And on good days, he thinks that he actually will survive. You ask yourself why, in a regime and a country where all this bloodshed is taking place, is there someone who still thinks they can make it? The answer lies in capitals like Moscow. Russia and China have prevented a consensus from forming at the Security Council. In this case, as in the case of Iran, the United States should spend more time thinking about what it should do to factor in Russia's desire to be treated like the Soviet Union once was. Russia needs to be engaged by the U.S.
The Palestinian Authority has had financial problems this year. There is a shortfall in external assistance from the region—not from the United States or Europe. It's not that we got nothing—there is just a shortfall.
L.W.: I heard you worked out a bridge loan with Stan Fischer, governor of the Bank of Israel?
S.F.: A meeting of the donor community happens twice a year; this time it was in Europe. I was given the floor, and I said, "We came here with a very deep financial crisis, and it is paralyzing us." I said either countries that have lived up to their pledges, like the European Union and the United States, could increase their contributions, which I know is not easy, or the region needs to come up with more money. Or the international community could make it possible for us to borrow money from the [International Monetary Fund] since we are undertaking an adjustment program that, if we were a country, would definitely qualify [us] for that kind of loan. But because we are not a member of the IMF, we don't have access to these funds. There must be something you can do. We are still pursuing it.
L.W.: You will really leave the government in such a dire situation?
S.F.: I am not going to go away. This is a dream for me. I don't have to be in government to pursue it and support it. It extends well beyond being in any position.
L.W.: So you will be back?
S.F.: I'm not going to go away.
L.W.: And maybe the Hamas-Fatah deal will never be made.
S.F.: Speculation now is that there will be difficulties. The problem that is often overlooked is that this on-again, off-again reconciliation produces a sense of transiency about the [Palestinian Authority]. Here's a government that is about to go. How are banks going to extend loans to us if they think we are not going to be in office next week? It produces a state of uncertainty. I am all for resolving this and deciding it in a swift way. This state of separation can be ended in only one way: elections. That's how this should be decided. Whatever the election outcome, it should be respected.
L.W.: You would run in the elections?
S.F.: I am not ruling it out. If I rate my prospects as reasonable, I will try my hand. I think it is doable.
Lally Weymouth is a senior associate editor of the Washington Post.