Plan B

Our Man in Palestine

As Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas struggle through yet another round of peace talks, the man with perhaps the best plan for creating a Palestinian state is an unelected technocrat excluded from the negotiations. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is in charge of remaking the Palestinian security forces, and a state in the process. The American-educated Fayyad has little popular support at home, yet “today he is responsible for nearly every aspect of Palestinian governance,” the New York Review of Books reports. Fayyad’s plan is to build a de facto Palestinian state by August next year (which happens to be the U.S.-imposed deadline for the peace talks), when the state’s existence will “impose itself on the world,” Fayyad says. Israel worries that at that point the U.N. will recognize Palestinian statehood, and it might retaliate by annexing parts of the West Bank. But Fayyad is likely confident that this latest round of peace talks will fail, making his plan the only game in town. And if Israel doesn’t recognize the state then, Hamas could persuasively argue that violence is the only way for Palestinians to be liberated. “What he did is very risky but also very smart,” an Israeli defense official says.