President Trump – still mulling over the release of his ultimate peace deal to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict – has seen the swift rejection of the call by Jason D. Greenblatt – Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations – to have Dr Saeb Erekat replaced as chief negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in future negotiations with Israel.
Greenblatt raised America’s objection to Erekat in stark and uncompromising terms – alleging Erekat
- failed to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to peace
- used rhetoric and made claims that were in many respects simply inaccurate
- had baselessly claimed that Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem was part of a U.S. attempt to force an Israeli-written agreement on the Palestinians.
- had failed to acknowledge a significant escalation of rockets fired by Hamas and other militant groups into Israel, which clearly represented the danger that Hamas and these groups present.Greenblatt asserted that the Palestinian leadership need not shackle themselves to Hamas’s failure – in fact, this should be the Palestinian Authority’s opportunity to do the right thing for the people they lead.
Greenblatt called on Erekat and the Palestinian Authority to reject Hamas’s violence and lies and work with America to bring relief to Gaza where America believed real progress could be made that would lay the foundation for a more hopeful future.
Greenblatt’s reference to the “Palestinian Authority” was strange indeed – since it had been disbanded by written decree issued by PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on 3 January 2013.
Greenblatt stressed it was time to stop indulging in overwrought rhetoric and give the Palestinian people something beyond words. Palestinian leadership must create better lives, not sacrifice those lives for Hamas’ grim agenda of terror.
Greenblatt claimed he had heard many Palestinian voices over the past 16 months and many did not agree with Erekat or his approach. Yet, the sad thing is that most would only meet and speak honestly and openly in private because they are afraid to speak publicly.
Greenblatt summed up:
“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. Other Palestinian perspectives might help us finally achieve a comprehensive peace agreement where Palestinian and Israeli lives can be better.
The time for leadership and responsibility is now. The time for meeting after meeting of government officials repeating the same talking points is over. The Palestinian people want real action, and they need honest, realistic and decisive solutions.
The notion that Israel is going away – or that Jerusalem is not its capital – is a mirage. The notion that the United States is not the critical interlocutor for the peace process is a mirage.”In a stinging, vitriolic reply Erekat immediately responded:
“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 will remain in his decades-long position unless pulmonary fibrosis prevents him physically discharging his current role. Erekat’s replacement would undoubtedly continue the same failed tactics adopted by Erekat.
Erekat’s predictable response should be seen as yet one more reason justifying Trump’s emerging strategy to replace the PLO with Jordan, Egypt and possibly Saudi Arabia in negotiations with Israel on the future of Gaza, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and East Jerusalem.
Rejecting Trump’s proffered lifeline ensures the PLO will play no part in future negotiations on Trump’s ultimate deal.
(Author’s note: The cartoon – commissioned exclusively for this article—is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators – whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog here.)