- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Salam Fayyad: Looking at the Future of Palestine

  • Jacob Carozza
| Summer 2018

Middle East Initiative Senior Fellow Salam Fayyad, a former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, never expected that he would be a politician.

As an official at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. during the 1980s and 1990s, the economist would often interact with policymakers whom he believed let politics get in the way of good ideas.

“In all honesty, I never really thought I would be on the other side of that table,” Fayyad said at a Middle East Initiative seminar in April.

But history had other ideas. After a stint as the International Monetary Fund’s envoy to Palestine in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Fayyad was asked by Yasser Arafat in 2002 to serve as the Palestinian Authority’s Finance Minister.

He agreed to take the job—on the condition that he stay for only two years.

Arafat “actually couldn’t believe that I said yes,” Fayyad said. “He wasn’t expecting it.”

Fayyad’s political career didn’t end there. He remained the Finance Minister until 2005, and served as prime minister from 2007 until 2013.

At the seminar, Fayyad gave his take on the protests that erupted in March on the border between Gaza and Israel, in which Palestinians are demanding the right to return to ancestral lands. The most important thing Palestinian leaders can do to honor and validate the youth-fueled movement, he said, would be to “actually move decisively toward reuniting the country.” Gaza has been under the control of Hamas since 2007, while the Palestinian Authority rules the West Bank.

According to Fayyad, two-thirds of Palestinians were born after 2000, or are too young to remember a time before that. This new generation is demanding action from Palestinian leaders, regardless of party, he said.

“People have every right to get a sense that we are on the right path, and that is the job of the leadership. That’s the most important thing they should be doing—and they’re not doing that right now—in my judgment,” Fayyad said.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Corozza, Jacob. "Salam Fayyad:  Looking at the Future of Palestine." Belfer Center Newsletter. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School (Spring 2018).

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