Via Meadia has written previously about the tragedy of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. A man of principle who is also a pragmatic and flexible leader, he has done more than anybody else to build a working Palestinian state, but that achievement is under growing threat as Hamas, Fatah and the Israeli government all pursue courses that make his goal of a peaceful two-state solution seem harder and harder to reach.
Over at The New Republic, Ben Birnbaum interviewed Fayyad and offers a thoughtful account of the rise and fall of this singular figure in Palestinian politics—one who sought to crack down on corruption, enact serious reform, and build the institutions of a future Palestinian state. The story makes for depressing but informative reading:
[I]t was clear that, with the pressure he was under—from Fatah, from Israel, from Congress, from Hamas, and now from a frustrated Palestinian public—Fayyad was beginning to crack. At multiple points in the interview, he asked—practically begged—me to skip a question or to strike something from the record. “Please help me out,” he said, leaning forward. “I agreed to the interview, but I really do not want to get into anything controversial.” . . .
Gone was the buoyant Fayyad who roused audience members from their seats at Herzliya. Gone was the unbridled optimist who had predicted less than two years earlier that, in 2011, “the birth of a Palestinian state will be celebrated as a day of joy by the entire community of nations.” In his place sat a man deflated by the hard realities of the conflict.
Read the whole thing. It’s yet another reminder of why the peace process needs some serious rethinking. It’s also a reminder that the Bush administration, widely attacked as too close to Israel, did more through its support of Fayyad and his state-building program than its successor has managed to accomplish.