By Lucky Gold
We have been facing serious financial difficulties for more than two years
CNN - Can the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority be revived by the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the region?
On Monday, Christiane Amanpour sat down with Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Prime Minister, in his Ramallah office on the West Bank, where he expressed serious doubts – not only about the peace talks but about the very existence of the Palestinian Authority he represents:
“It should not be taken as a foregone conclusion that we’re going to be able to make it, to be honest with you, given the pressures on us, both political as well as economic and financial.”
Asked to elaborate on those financial pressures, he told her, “We have been facing serious financial difficulties for more than two years now and the crisis has become very acute to the point of us being unable to meet such basic obligations as wages.”
When asked how many people are not getting paid, Prime Minister Fayyad replied, “About one hundred fifty five thousand people.”
The fault, he said, lies with delinquent financial donors in the region: “Yesterday, I got a call from Saudi finance minister who informed me that the kingdom is about to transfer a hundred million dollars. We’re grateful to Saudi Arabia for that, but not all Arab countries, donor countries, are in full compliance.”
Is the government of Israel prepared to accept a solution
Non-compliance, he said, could be another casualty of the failed peace process: “A lot of people have begun to view what we have been doing… as an exercise of adapting to prolong occupation.”
When asked if he believes Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu intends to end the occupation, he was emphatic: “What I really believe is very important is for the Israeli body politic, the Israeli government and the Israeli Prime Minister to once and for all answer a very simple question: Is the government of Israel prepared to accept a solution to this long standing conflict: a fully sovereign state of Palestine on the territory occupied in 1967, yes or no?”
There is no alternative to exhumation of the body
Lastly, he was asked if he believes the late President of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat, was poisoned by the Israelis and does he support the exhumation of the body?
“I think there is no alternative to exhumation of the body,” said Prime Minister Fayyad, “given evidence recently reported on a Swiss lab finding there are traces of plutonium on personal belongings to the dead president. Under these conditions I personally believe that this must be done.”