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Time for Palestinian leadership spring clean

January 06, 2014
By Stuart Littlewood


The Times of Israel reports that Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, who recently resigned (again) but mysteriously remains in post, said in an interview that the Palestinians will not agree to extending the latest talks with Israel one minute beyond the allotted nine months, ending in April.

“The objective is to reach an agreement on all issues pertaining to a final-status deal. And according to the wording of the agreement with [US Secretary of State John] Kerry, there will be no transitional or interim agreement,” Erekat said.

He added that the US administration was trying to cut the talks short to pre-empt any attempt to extend them. In the meantime ,Israel was trying to thwart the peace process – and US efforts — in “every way”, the latest example being an Israeli bill to annex the Jordan Valley, which passed a key ministerial committee last week.

Reality dawning

Proper talks, which started last July, have not been held for two month owing to stalemate and unofficial meetings had been fruitless. Erekat said Washington has yet to present the two sides with an official offer. Where exactly the US gets its authority to make any “offer” without reference to, and full compliance with, international law and previous UN resolutions has never been clear to this writer.

We’re also told that Abbas, the de facto Palestinian president who is well past his clear-your-desk date, has written to Barack Obama that the Palestine Liberation Organization, which represents the Palestinians to the outside world, will not accept Israel as a Jewish state, will not accept a Palestinian state with 1967 borders without Jerusalem, and will not accept any Israeli on Palestinian land, sea, air and border crossings after Israel’s withdrawal is completed. Nor will Abbas accept any solution that does not grant potentially millions of refugees their right to return and be compensated, as per UN Resolution 194, and allow for the release of prisoners.

None of this is new or surprising; it’s standard stuff and should be unobjectionable, supported as it is by UN resolutions (unimplemented) and international law (unenforced).

According to the Times of Israel, Erekat said Abbas presented these preconditions to the Arab League, which passed them to UN Security Council member states. This is Erekat’s strategy for appealing to the European Union to recognize the Palestinian state while at the same time appealing to various international bodies to sign treaties and protocols that would enable the Palestinian Authority to file a suit against Israel in the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.

Erekat has also produced a crime-sheet of Israeli moves that undermine the peace process. Again, what’s new? Israel has been sticking two fingers up, for the whole world to see, all the years Erekat and Abbas have been involved.

In the name of God, go!

The confidential Palestine Papers, leaked to Al-Jazeera in 2011, revealed the shambolic conduct of the so-called peace process and how the Palestinian team allowed the Israelis to walk all over them, with US help.

One of the leak’s sources, a French-Palestinian lawyer and former adviser to the PLO, Ziyad Clot, said in an article in the Guardian newspaper that the peace process was “an inequitable and destructive political process which had been based on the assumption that the Palestinians could in effect negotiate their rights and achieve self-determination while enduring the hardship of the Israeli occupation”. They were “a deceptive farce whereby biased terms were unilaterally imposed by Israel and systematically endorsed by the US and EU”. They “excluded for the most part the great majority of the Palestinian people: the seven million Palestinian refugees”. And, he said, “the PLO, given its structure, was not in a position to represent all Palestinian rights and interests”.

So why is Erekat still engaging in it? He was educated in political science in the US and conflict studies in England, so should be articulate and media-savvy. He became chief negotiator in 1995. He occupies a king-pin position in the world’s hottest hot-spot but how often do we see him in the Western media? When was the last time? He is possibly the least successful negotiator in the world, and where has that got the Palestinians? He also has a habit of resigning then popping up again. Is there really no-one else?

Furthermore, there’s still no sign that Abbas himself has got his backside into gear and commenced the necessary preparations for Palestine to activate the ICC and bring long-overdue war crimes charges against Israel. It’s also a bit late in the day for Erekat to suddenly see the light. Does any of this actually take us nearer a sane justice process, as opposed to the shameful “kangaroo” peace negotiations that Erekat and Abbas seem addicted to?

As Oliver Cromwell told the English Parliament in 1653: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!” It might be appropriate for those same words to be addressed to Erekat and Abbas, and indeed the entire PLO and Palestinian Authority – the whole caboodle a futile waste of space.

ENDS

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