PA Prime Minister: De Facto State in Two Years

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RAMALLAH - Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said his government plans to declare a de facto Palestinian state within two years irrespective of talks with "a hostile occupation regime."

"The Palestinian government is struggling determinedly against a hostile occupation regime...to establish a de facto state apparatus within the next years," Fayyad told reporters at a press conference in Ramallah on Tuesday morning.

"This can and must happen within two years," he said.

"We must confront the whole world with the reality that Palestinians are united and steadfast in their determination to remain on their homeland, end the occupation and achieve freedom and independence," he said.

"The world should also know that we are not prepared to continue living under a brutal occupation and siege that flouts not only the law, but also the principles of natural justice and human decency," he continued.

"This government seeks to involve all sectors and segments of society in the natural drive to develop and advance our institutions," he said.

Fayyad's press conference followed an interview published on Tuesday by The Times of London in which he talked about establishing a de facto Palestinian state by 2011 while bemoaning Jewish "settlement activity" and "home demolitions in Jerusalem."

"It is empowering to even think that way," Fayyad told The Times, adding that he doesn't take remarks by Israeli Cabinet ministers who recently toured Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria "that seriously."

The publication of the article coincided with a visit to London by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during which he is scheduled to meet with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and U.S. Middle East mediator George Mitchell.

The talks are expected to focus on the U.S. and European demand that Israel freeze all building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Netanyahu has said that Israel will not allow restrictions on its sovereignty in its capital and that families in Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria must be allowed to continue their "normal life," a euphemism for continuing construction in existing communities.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government had no immediate comment on Fayyad's declaration about declaring a de facto state.

But a senior Israeli official who asked not to be named told CBN News that such a move didn't make sense. He wondered how the Palestinians could declare a state that had no defined borders. The so-called "green line" that separates Israel proper and the West Bank, is actually the 1948 ceasefire line and doesn't appear on any maps, he said.

He noted that the Palestinians themselves had in the past rejected the idea of declaring a state with temporary or provisional boundaries.

The official also said the Palestinians are the ones who do not demand that Israeli security forces leave Palestinian towns, which they claim are occupied, because the towns would likely fall into the hands of Hamas. And then there is also the problem of what to do with Hamas-controlled Gaza, he said.

Sources: The Associated Press, The Jerusalem Post

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