Greenblatt: After four decades of Erekat, Palestinians deserve better

Jpost – Israel News

“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.

By Herb Keinon
June 10, 2018 19:12

It is time for the Palestinians to be served by leaders other than Saeb Erekat, who for the last 40 years has voiced the same talking points and failed to deliver “anything close” to what the Palestinians want, US Mideast negotiator Jason Greenblatt wrote in an op-ed on Sunday.

Greenblatt, who on a number of occasions has been the target of Erekat’s angry rhetorical fusillades, took to the offensive in a Haaretz piece headlined, “Trump Mideast envoy: The Palestinians deserve so much more than Saeb Erekat.”

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“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. “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,” he said. “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.”

Greenblatt wrote that notions that Israel is going away, or that Jerusalem is not the country’s capital, or that the United States is not a critical interlocutor for Mideast peace are all simply “mirages.”

“The reality is that there is an opportunity for peace at hand, and that President Trump and his administration are working to help facilitate a peace that will open up the future of the Palestinian people, if they and their leadership have the courage to seize it,” he concluded.

The trigger for the piece was an article Erekat wrote on May 17, following the move of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the most violent day of rioting along the Gaza security fence, when 62 Palestinians were killed.

Erekat accused the US of “moral bankruptcy and complicity with Israel,” and accused Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman of becoming “nothing less than spokespeople for the Israeli occupation.”

“US officials decided to conduct the illegal act of moving the American embassy to Jerusalem on the eve of Nakba Day. That showed their support for the occupation and provided recognition for Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem,” Erekat wrote. “This will eventually be part of the implementation of the so-called ‘ultimate deal.’  And this, too, is what all the Palestinian people reject – the US attempt to force an Israeli-written agreement that crosses all of our red lines.”

Greenblatt, who in his piece referred to Erekat’s op-ed as an “outburst,” said many of the chief Palestinian negotiator’s claims were “simply inaccurate.”
“We must all join together to reject such unhelpful rhetoric and false claims if we hope to achieve peace,” Greenblatt wrote. “For far too long, the United States has turned a deaf ear to such words, but ignoring hateful and false words has not brought peace and it will never bring peace.”

Greenblatt recommend that Erekat acknowledge the “significant escalation of rockets fired by Hamas and other militant groups into Israel,” and recognize that these actions have “only succeeded in exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.”

“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 wrote. “When Dr. Erekat and the Palestinian Authority are finally ready to reject Hamas’s violence and lies and work with us to bring relief to Gaza, we believe real progress could be made that would lay the foundation for a more hopeful future.”

Greenblatt added that he has heard many Palestinian voices over the past 16 months that do not agree with Erekat, but that “the sad thing is that most will only meet and speak honestly and openly in private because they are afraid to speak publicly.”

Erekat has been extremely harsh in his criticism of the US administration and its officials in recent months, saying in February that US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was “impudent” and needed to “shut up,” and in March that Friedman had “worked tirelessly to advocate and legitimize Israeli violations while dehumanizing Palestinians.”

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