Building the Palestinian State With Salam Fayyad

Produced by ‘The Ezra Klein Show’

“If only we had a partner for peace.”

That’s been the refrain in the Israel-Palestinian conflict for as long as I’ve followed it. But the truth is you don’t need just a partner — you need two partners able to deliver at the same time.

So you could see it as a tragedy of history that Salam Fayyad joined the Palestinian Authority in 2002, at the height of the second intifada, just as Israeli society shifted hard to the right.

[You can listen to this episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” on the NYT Audio App, Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

A Western-educated economist, Fayyad is a technocrat at heart. And as the Palestinian Authority’s finance minister, and then as prime minister, he dedicated himself to the spadework of state-building. His theory was that instead of waiting around for the peace process to deliver Palestinian statehood, he would just build a state — institutions, infrastructure, security, sewers and all — and then statehood would follow.

And by many measures, he was remarkably successful. The economy boomed, crime plummeted, and in 2011 the United Nations declared the authority ready to run an independent state. But in April 2013, Fayyad resigned. And today, the Palestinian Authority in tatters, widely seen by Palestinians as corrupt and a failure.

Fayyad is now a visiting senior scholar at Princeton. And I wanted to have him on the show to talk about his time building a Palestinian state. What did he learn working with the various factions — including Hamas — in Palestinian politics? What did he learn working with Israel? How did we still end up here? And what, given all he’s seen and done, does he think should happen now?

You can listen to our whole conversation by following “The Ezra Klein Show” on the NYT Audio App, Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts. View a list of book recommendations from our guests here.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

Credit…Abbas Momani/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Rollin Hu. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, with Kate Sinclair and Mary Marge Locker. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing from Efim Shapiro. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Annie Galvin and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

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