February 07, 2008
A Vision for Peace in the Middle East
Dr. Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, spoke to UT faculty and students and members of the local community, sharing his hopes and vision for peace in the Middle East. Prime Minister Fayyad emphasized the importance of working out a peace plan that not only addresses the long-term political issue of creating an autonomous Palestinian state, but also provides for the immediate needs of the Palestinian people, including security and economic growth. Both elements are necessary for a long-lasting, sustainable peace, he argued.
Commenting on the actions of Hamas, the militant political party that won the Palestinian Authority's general legislative elections of 2006, Prime Minister Fayyad noted its highly detrimental impact on the peace process and the lives of ordinary Palestinians. He pointed out that a Palestinian state cannot be built while violence and militia activity continue in the Gaza Strip. To bring the politically divided Palestinian people back together, living conditions in the Gaza Strip need to improve so that people can focus on building a state instead of day-to-day security, he said.
In conclusion, Prime Minister Fayyad expressed cautious optimism about the future of Palestine but was quite skeptical about the possibility of achieving peace in the Middle East by the end of this year. He stressed that for the peace to become a reality, both Israelis and Palestinians need to commit fully to the negotiations and peace process, become a full-fledged partner of each other and be resolute to "prove history wrong."
Dr. Salam Fayyad was born in Nablus, Palestine in1952. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the American University of Beirut in 1975. He received an MBA from St. Edward's University in 1980 and a PhD (Economics), University of Texas at Austin in 1986. He held several teaching and research assignments at the University of Texas at Austin and Yarmouk University (1983-1986) and was a Visiting Scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (1986).
Before embarking on a political career, Dr. Fayyad worked for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 1987-2001, acting as resident representative in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from 1996-2001. He left the IMF to work as Regional Manager of the Arab Bank, Palestine in 2002. He was appointed Minister of Finance in June 2002. Dr. Fayyad resigned from the Ministry of Finance in December 2005 and, in January 2006, he was elected for the Palestinian Legislative Council and served as Chairman of the PLC's Budget and Finance Committee.
In March 2007, Dr. Fayyad was appointed again as Minister of Finance in the National Unity Government. Three months later, Dr. Fayyad was appointed Prime Minister and has formed an emergency government, in which, in addition to being the Premier, he serves as Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Dr. Fayyad is married and has three children.