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Interview: How Salam Fayyad plans to save the Palestinian dream

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Fayyad optimistic; Israelis skeptical

A former senior official at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Fayyad came onto the Palestinian political scene, somewhat reluctantly, by agreeing to become Yasser Arafat's finance minister in 2002. At the time, the Palestinian Authority was mid-intifada and mired in corruption. Fayyad's international credibility and economic expertise helped pull the PA back from the brink.

Now, he wants the PA to focus on the nuts and bolts of state-building, from schools and sewage to building new cities and affordable housing in the West Bank.

His sweeping plan, laid out in a succinct 50 pages, has become Fayyad's calling card, and is full of objectives that seem as optimistic and positive as Fayyad himself. But the plan is already raising eyebrows in Israel, drawing criticism for its call to unilateral action in disputed territory. For example, the plan calls for Palestinian building in "Area C" – a West Bank area populated by Palestinians but designated as being under Israel's security control by the Oslo Accords.

Fayyad makes no apologies for that. If Israel can build on the land over which it is supposed to be negotiating, so can Palestinians, he says.

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