Erekat fires back at 'spokesperson for Israel' Greenblatt after angry op-ed
Thomas SAMSON (AFP/File)
The top Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat launched a blistering attack on US President Donald Trump's peace envoy Jason Greenblatt on Sunday, after the White House official called on Palestinians to oust Erekat from the job.
The latest public row between Washington and Ramallah heightens tensions ahead of the expected unveiling of a White House road map to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
In an opinion piece published by Israel's Haaretz and Ramallah's Al Quds newspapers, Greenblatt argued decades of talks under Erekat's stewardship have achieved nothing and accused him of rhetoric which has only exacerbated the conflict.
Erekat penned his own op-ed for Haaretz later Sunday, attacking Greenblatt for doing "nothing less than peddling Israeli policies" and saying meetings with him were pointless.
"Mr Greenblatt promotes an agenda to systematically deny the rights of the Palestinian people," Erekat wrote.
"He will never talk about the Palestinian right to self-determination, or about a political solution. He wouldn’t dare talk about a solution where Palestinians and Israelis are equal."
"In dozens of meetings we had with Mr. Greenblatt he refused to discuss substance: no borders, no settlements, and no two-state solution. Today, his role is nothing less than peddling Israeli policies to a skeptical international community, and then becomes upset when he's reminded of this."
Erekat, who is also the Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization, charged that Greenblatt and US envoys to Israel and the United Nations "won’t be satisfied until Palestinians endorse Zionism, renounce their political rights, and sign onto apartheid."
The article that prompted Erekat's skewering was similarly unforgiving.
“Dr. Erekat -- we have heard your voice for decades and it has not achieved anything close to Palestinian aspirations or anything close to a comprehensive peace agreement,” Greenblatt wrote in his own op-ed, titled: “The Palestinians Deserve So Much More Than Saeb Erekat”.
He accused Erekat of “unhelpful rhetoric and false claims” regarding both the US embassy move and the Gaza protests which he said were orchestrated by Hamas and “have only succeeded in exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.”
“Dr. Erekat’s rhetoric and his claims were in many respects simply inaccurate," wrote Greenblatt, a former lawyer for Trump and now the president's special representative for international negotiations.
“Other Palestinian perspectives might help us finally achieve a comprehensive peace agreement where Palestinian and Israeli lives can be better,” he wrote.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) led by President Mahmoud Abbas cut ties with the US officials in December after Trump announced his decision on Jerusalem, and withdrew its envoy to Washington last week after the inauguration of the controversial new US embassy in the disputed holy city.
Since then, Abbas has refused to meet with any officials from the Trump administration and has rejected the United States as an appropriate mediator in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Nevertheless, the White House has pushed ahead with formulating a way to get Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in a series of media interviews last month that he expects the plan to drop not long after the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in mid-June.
Erekat was the top peace negotiator for the PLO, and his loyalty to Abbas -- whose recent week-long hospitalization sparked speculation as to who will succeed the ageing statesman -- has made him a favorite to next lead the PA.
Erekat, however, has denied his interest in taking over the reins and there is no consensus among Fatah regarding Erekat taking the leadership role.
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The goal of the Pal is to eliminate the Jews from their ancestral land.