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December 15, 2015

Palestinian 'Peace' Negotiator Refuses to Take Stage With Israeli Flag

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Saeb Erekat


Saeb Erekat, a top Palestinian Authority (PA) official, refused to speak at an event sponsored by an Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz and the New Israel Fund (NIF) if an Israeli flag was on-stage.

Erekat has worked as the PA’s chief negotiator and has frequently been referred to by many journalists and policymakers as a “moderate.”

The PA official attended a joint Ha’aretz-NIF New York City conference on Dec. 13, 2015. As Arutz Sheva, a news organization associated with Israel’s settler movement, reported, Erekat “demanded that event organizers take the [Israeli] flag down as his price for gracing the event with his comments—and they complied, upon which Erekat agreed to make his prepared speech (December 13, “Ha’aretz removes Israeli flag to accommodate PA’s Erekat”).”

Other speakers and guests at the conference included the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Powers, commentator Peter Beinart, J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami and 1960-1970s rock star and anti-Israel boycott advocate Roger Waters, among others.

Arutz Sheva described Erekat’s speech as a “rehashing of the usual themes,” including laying sole blame for failure to achieve a two-state solution on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who Erekat claimed was trying to create an “apartheid state.” The PA chief negotiator lauded the recent European Union decision supporting a boycott against Israeli products made in areas held by Israel as a result of the 1967 and 1973 wars.

Erekat served as chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority when Israel and, in the first two cases the United States, offered a two-state solution in exchange for peace and recognition in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba and 2008 following the Annapolis Conference. Each offer was rejected without a counter proposal, by Palestinian Arab leadership, including Erekat.

In his remarks, Erekat rejected criticism that the PA was not fighting anti-Israel incitement, claiming, “It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between incitement and freedom of expression. We try to fix the mistakes we make.”

However, as CAMERA has documented, the PA—led by the Fatah movement—repeatedly has incited violence against Israelis, civilians and non-civilians alike, using everything from children’s sing alongs to poems and PA official broadcasts featuring PA officials, such as Jibril Rajoub, among others, who praise terror attacks as “courageous” (November 24, “Leaders Encourage Palestinian Children to Murder Jews, Use Sing-Alongs”).

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), an organization that monitors Arab media in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), Gaza and eastern Jerusalem, noted that the day before Erekat spoke Fatah posted a cartoon on its web site depicting both U.S. and Israeli soldiers murdering children. As CAMERA has noted, Fatah and the PA have repeatedly invoked this modern-day version of the medieval blood-libel, alleging that Jews murder innocent children (November 11, “Palestinian T.V. Favorite Accuses Israel of ‘Harvesting’ Terrorists’ Organs”).

PA rhetoric endorsing violence frequently correlates to terrorist attacks committed against Israelis. For example, on December 3, Mazen Hassan, a PA intelligence officer, attacked and wounded an Israeli civilian and soldier before he was shot and killed. Hassan’s family received a condolence visit from Erekat. This is not surprising as PA officials frequently pay respects to deceased terrorists.

However, it’s perhaps even less surprising given that Hassan was Erekat’s nephew—a fact not reported by Ha’aretz, which perhaps did not want to embarrass their future guest speaker (December 15, “Lost in Haaretz Translation: Saeb Erekat’s Relative Shot 2 Israelis”).

Nor is this the first time that Erekat has shown a willingness to lie publicly.

In 2002, Erekat claimed that Israel committed a massacre in Jenin with at least 500 dead. Eventually, PA officials admitted that 52 were killed, mostly combatants, in house-to-house fighting in Jenin that claimed 23 Israeli soldiers.

CAMERA has documented how Erekat has attempted to fabricate history by claiming—in contrast to the Qu’ran, historical consensus, and fellow PA officials—that Palestinian Arabs are the real descendants of the Canaanites who lived in the Jordan Valley and Judean and Samarian hill country before the Israelis (Feb. 19, 2014, “Saeb Erekat’s Fabrication Exposes ‘Palestinian Narrative’”).

Grant Rumley, an analyst of Jordanian and Palestinian politics at D.C.-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has written that Erekat may be a possible successor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas (September 3, “The Race to Replace Mahmoud Abbas”). If so, observers may want to remember a ‘peace negotiator’ who refuses to be seen with an Israeli flag and pays tribute to slain terrorists/relatives. It’s said a diplomat is a gentleman sent abroad to lie for his country. In Erekat’s case—he’s from Jericho—he need not travel far.


Posted by SD at December 15, 2015 03:31 PM

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