Palestinian PM Fayyad: Time is not right for serious peace talks
Salam Fayyad tells lobby group American Task Force on Palestine it aims for a two-state solution, but that if that doesn't occur, Palestinians will likely demand the right to vote in Israeli elections.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Thursday that Palestinian-American relations are currently strained, and that many Palestinians are very disappointed with the yields of diplomacy, but he stressed that the Palestinians are committed to the peace process.
"We want to see an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967. We want the Palestinian people to live with dignity. Fayyad said the Palestinians are committed to resolving the conflict, but that "the conditions are not right to resume talks."
"All we Palestinians are looking for is viable sovereign state on 22% of the land," Fayyad said. "That's what we want. All we want is freedom from Israel, not freedom to vote in Israel. That's what we really want. If it doesn't happen who can prevent it from becoming a struggle for equal voting rights [for Palestinians in Israel]?"
Fayyad made his remarks Wednesday night at the American Task Force on Palestine's gala event in Washington, at a time when there is a diplomatic crisis between the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian lobby group in D.C.
The Task Force's President and founder Ziad Asali complimented Fayyad on his "courage" and promised that Americans of Palestinian ethnicity will continue to support Palestine, even after a Palestinian state is established.
The Palestinian prime minister harshly criticized the announcement of new construction in East Jerusalem. "It's actually Bethlehem," he said, adding that there can be no solution to the conflict "without recognizing East Jerusalem as the permanent capital of Palestine," he said.
Fayyad added that the Israeli government must "rein in settler violence" and that "much more needs to be done against these acts of extremism and terrorism."
Fayyad also commented on Palestinian-American relations, and admitted that they are currently in a difficult stage.
At last year's gala event, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was a featured speaker; this year she was out of the country, so the U.S. special envoy to the Middle East David Hale read a message from her at the gala, expressing her appreciation for the organization's work and its contributions to the peace process.