Fayyad to Palestinians: unite for state in 2 years
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad set a goal on Monday of establishing a Palestinian state within two years, Reuters reported.
Fayyad, a technocrat with no significant political base of his own, heads a newly aligned cabinet with more ministers from the dominant Fatah faction of President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Islamist Hamas rivals refuse to recognize the premier.
"I call on all our people to unite around the project of establishing a state and to strengthen its institutions ... so that the Palestinian state becomes, by the end of next year or within two years at most, a reality," he said in a speech.
"Achieving this goal within two years is possible," he told an audience at Al Quds university near Jerusalem.
He said his priority was Palestinian unity between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but he made no direct appeal to Hamas, whose control of Gaza since 2007 has made it virtually a separate Palestinian territory.
In line with Abbas's policy, he signaled no change in the Palestinian refusal to resume peace talks with Israel until it freezes Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinians, he said, should win world support by building up all the institutions for the independent state they seek:
"The need for it has become more pressing after the speech of the Israeli prime minister tried to bypass the international consensus that calls for Israel to implement its obligations."
Israeli officials declined comment on the speech.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that Fayyad "has no right to speak about national unity."
Keen to prove their law-and-order credentials as part of efforts to revive peace talks with Israel, Abbas and Fayyad have been mounting increasingly bloody West Bank crackdowns on Hamas.
"He (Fayyad) creates the greatest danger for Palestinians by believing in the ongoing security coordination with the Zionist enemy," Barhoum said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech on June 14, said he was ready to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state, but only if it forgoes many attributes of sovereignty -- notably an army, full control of its own borders and air space, and the power to forge military pacts.
Netanyahu has refused to halt the expansion of settlements as required by a 2003 peace "road map," and added a new demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a "Jewish state."