Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, known for his moderation and efforts at state-building, retired over the weekend. Matt Duss sums up his legacy to date:
He attempted to reform and develop the Palestinian economy, with a particular focus on greater transparency and accountability, in order create a sense of momentum among Palestinians toward statehood. In one of the surest signs of the Western intelligentsia’s blessing, the doctrine was endowed by The New York Times’ Tom Friedman with its own special title: “Fayyadism … the simple but all-too-rare notion that an Arab leader’s legitimacy should be based not on slogans or rejectionism or personality cults or security services, but on delivering transparent, accountable administration and services.”
Four years later, Fayyadism has foundered on the reality that economic development—genuine, sustainable economic development—is all but impossible amid the conditions of a hostile military occupation that the West Bank continues to experience under Israeli rule.
Beinart argues America and Israel blew their chance to work with a committed moderate leader:
In 2011, after Obama failed to convince Netanyahu to enter peace talks based upon the 1967 lines, Abbas bypassed the U.S.-led peace process and took his case for statehood to the U.N. instead. In 2012, he went there again, and won, in a vote in which America was abandoned by its key allies. Now Fayyad, who for more than a decade has been the most pro-American Palestinian official, is leaving the scene. Unless John Kerry can restart meaningful peace talks—which seems unlikely given Netanyahu’s continued hostility to using the 1967 lines as a benchmark—it’s likely that Abbas will take his case to the International Criminal Court, thus bypassing the United States yet again.