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Palestinian PM calls for unity to build a state

Fayyad sees Palestinian state within two years

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Monday called on Palestinians to unite for the creation of their own state in two years, without waiting for an end to the Israeli occupation.

"I urge the Palestinian people to rally around a program aimed at creating a state... so that a Palestinian state becomes a reality by the end of next year or within two years at most," he said in a speech at al-Quds university in Abu Dis, a West Bank suburb of Jerusalem.

He called for "all means" to be mobilized to ensure that goal is achieved "as this would place the entire world before its responsibility to end the occupation and allow our people to live in freedom in their homeland and to exercise their right to self-determination."

Fayyad, a technocrat with no significant political base of his own, heads a newly aligned cabinet with more ministers from the dominant Fatah faction of President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Islamist Hamas rivals refuse to recognize the prime minister.

He said his priority was Palestinian unity between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but he made no direct appeal to Hamas, whose control of Gaza since 2007 has made it virtually a separate Palestinian territory.

I urge the Palestinian people to rally around a program aimed at creating a state so that a Palestinian state becomes a reality by the end of next year or within two years at most

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad

Response to Netanyahu

Fayyad's keynote address was seen as a response to a June 14 speech in which Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted the principle of a Palestinian state but set conditions that would severely limit its sovereignty.

In line with Abbas's policy, he signaled no change in the Palestinian refusal to resume peace talks with Israel until it freezes Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Fayyad said Netanyahu's speech was "more ambiguous and far less committed" than the positions of previous Israeli governments.

"We ask the international community to press Israel to fulfill its commitments in order to salvage the two-state solution to open the way to peace in the region," he said.

This implies freezing settlement activity, lifting the blockade of the Gaza Strip and ending incursions into areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, Fayyad said.

"The credibility of the peace process will be measured by the level to which Israel respects its commitments," he added.

Call for strong foreign support

Palestinians expected foreign powers to shoulder their responsibilities by keeping Israel to its promises, Fayyad said.

To renew the people's battered confidence in the peace process, he said, Israel should stop settlement "in all its forms", stop the demolition of Palestinian homes, the confiscation of land and the isolation of Jerusalem.

Netanyahu insists all Jerusalem must be capital of Israel. Fayyad asserted the Palestinian counter-claim: "East Jerusalem will be our eternal capital for our independent state."

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that Fayyad "has no right to speak about national unity".

Keen to prove their law-and-order credentials as part of efforts to revive peace talks with Israel, Abbas and Fayyad have been mounting increasingly bloody West Bank crackdowns on Hamas.

"He (Fayyad) creates the greatest danger for Palestinians by believing in the ongoing security coordination with the Zionist enemy," Barhoum said.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks restarted in November 2007 after a seven-year hiatus but halted again when Israel launched a deadly military offensive in the Gaza Strip in December last year.

He creates the greatest danger for Palestinians by believing in the ongoing security coordination with the Zionist enemy

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum