Around the Institute

Former Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister: ‘This Conflict Will be Resolved’

July 10, 2014

Above, watch the full conversation from the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival between former Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman about the pathway to Palestinian statehood.

As the death toll from rocket fire and aerial offensives continues to rise in both Israel and Palestine — the aftermath of the abduction and murder of three Jewish teens, and the subsequent abduction and murder of a Palestinian teen — the path to an end to the recent violence remains unclear. In the midst of the uncertainty, former Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, spoke at the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival with New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman about the pathway to Palestinian statehood.

Fayyad acknowledged the violence in the Middle East region as a whole, and shared his perspective on what caused it.

“This is an unprecedented state of violence… all happening as part of this upheaval the whole region is going through,” Fayyad said. “To me it was a delayed reaction to a deep sense of injustice that was exploited by extremists and people on the fringe — and they’re ruling the day today.”

Palestinian Security Forces

During the wide-ranging conversation, Fayyad explained his attempts to build a Palestinian infrastructure and institutions that would, as he put it, “contribute to an effort that ultimately would lead to projecting the reality of a Palestinian statehood on the ground,” which Friedman dubbed “Fayyadism.” In the clip below, Fayyad explains how he helped build up the Palestinian security forces.

The Right of Return

In the clip below, Fayyad explains the disagreements between Israel and Palestine on the “right of return” — the concept that Palestinian first-generation refugees and their descendants should have the right to return (in Israel and Palestinian territories) to the land and property they lived in and owned before the Palestinian exodus of 1948.

“We have this demand of Israel, we can’t drop it, we agreed to discuss it,” Fayyad said of the right of return. “How good is it, if [Palestine is] going to say, ‘yes’ to this, ‘yes’ to that, ‘yes’ to that other thing, before a final agreement… We’re going to be too weak to accept anything, too weak to be a meaningful counterpart.”

The Key to an Israeli-Palestinian Solution

So what will it take to bring about a peaceful solution to decades of conflict between Israel and Palestine? According to Fayyad, what’s needed is a balanced playing field.

“At some point, we really need to bring about this notion, or value, of equality, ” he said. “This conflict is going to be resolved one day, I firmly believe this, [there’s] no reason to give up. But in order for that to happen, I believe the needs, sensitivities, and concerns of both sides need to begin to be viewed on an equal footing.”