Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.
Former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, seen here when still in office, heads a cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, April 16, 2013. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
A confrontation has developed between the former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority Salam Fayyad and the PA’s President Mahmoud Abbas.
On Tuesday, Fayyad presented a plan to end the split between Fatah and Hamas and open a path intended to lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state. On Wednesday, the official PA news agency criticized Fayyad and described his plan as a “failed attempt to destroy decades of Palestinian struggle.”
Fayyad unveiled his plan on Tuesday night in Ramallah at an event attended by senior Palestinian politicians and academics. According to Fayyad, his plan is aimed at breaking the political stalemate in the PA and and facilitating an end to Israeli control of the West Bank.
His proposal includes declaring an interim, time-limited period during which the political divisions between the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and the PA/Fatah-run West Bank would be solved, and the various Palestinian factions, including Hamas, would all come under the auspices of the Palestine Liberation Organization. In a second stage, a new Palestinian leadership would be formed from representatives of all factions.
Fayyad said he envisioned all of the various factions committing to a hudna – a prolonged ceasefire with Israel, enabling the reorganization of official Palestinian institutes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip after nine years of division between Abbas’s Fatah party and Hamas.
Within six months of the end of the interim period, there would be elections for the Palestinian parliament and the PA leadership.
Fayyad’s vision is that successful internal Palestinian reconciliation, and the presentation of a united Palestinian front, would pave the way to a deal ending Israel’s West Bank presence. During the hudna period, the aim would be to initiate a diplomatic process with Israel based on principles accepted by the international community, and primarily the Arab Peace Initiative. Fayyad’s plan provides for a defined timetable for this to play out, with guarantees from Western and regional nations.
However, Palestinian sources said the plan was interpreted by Abbas as a direct challenge to his rule. This was in part because, after years of on-off talks between Fatah and Hamas, and despite two reconciliation agreements, the PA chief has not been able to achieve internal Palestinian rapprochement.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas takes part in a prayer session ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan, in Ramallah on Wednesday, July 6, 2015. (Flash90)
Sources close to Abbas were quick to attack the plan. Hours after the launch of the initiative, it was sharply criticized in an editorial published by the official PA news agency Wafa. The editorial said the idea of entering a diplomatic process with the Israelis on the basis of a hudna stood in contrast to the position of the Palestinian leadership led by Abbas, which rejects agreeing to the establishment of a Palestinian state on temporary borders and instead seeks a direct move to a full and permanent agreement. A deal based on temporary borders, the editorial claimed, would amount to giving up Jerusalem, which would lead to its “Judaization.”
It is also charged that Fayyad’s call for a united leadership was part of efforts by Hamas and Israel to create an alternative to the PLO and to deprive it of the right to determine the fate of the Palestinian people.
The editorial concluded by declaring that the “enemies of the Palestinian people” are happy to hear of the initiative that aims to “undermine the Palestinian people.”
Fayyad was appointed as prime minister by Abbas after the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007. He resigned in 2013 due to differences with Abbas. An economist by trade who leads an independent party, Fayyad is considered close to some senior Israeli officials and to the White House. His successes in improving the West Bank economic and security situation were resented by some in Fatah and by Abbas, who saw him as a political foe.
After his resignation, Fayyad criticized Abbas’s leadership, warned that Fatah was collapsing, and said that Palestinian history was a saga of failed leadership.