23. Salam Fayyad
for bringing faith in technocracy to the Holy Land.
Prime minister | Palestine
It may just be a soft-spoken technocrat who makes the revolutionary dream of an independent Palestine into a reality. Last year, Salam Fayyad, a former IMF hand, laid out a plan to construct the institutions of a Palestinian state in two years. In 2010, his push is gaining momentum: Fayyad has opened dozens of schools and housing centers across the West Bank and pledged that at least half of the Palestinian Authority's budget this year will be provided by tax revenues rather than aid. The West Bank's economy grew at an impressive 7 percent clip during 2009, while Palestinian security services cracked down on attacks meant to destabilize the peace process.
By Salam Fayyad
In his three years in office, Fayyad has evolved from a bureaucrat's bureaucrat into a political figure in his own right. At the same time, he remains the West Bank leader most willing to work with his Israeli counterparts, who often praise him as a "Palestinian Ben-Gurion."
Increasingly, Westerners and Arabs alike see Fayyad's state-building plan as the most effective way to place the initiative back in Palestinian hands. And even if the latest round of Mideast peace talks comes to naught, Palestinians will still have the new schools, improved roads, and professional law enforcement agencies that are Fayyad's legacy.
ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images