Questions I would want to ask Sa’eb Ereikat

[ 02/03/2011 – 12:10 AM ]

By Khalid Amayreh

Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiator Saeb Ereikat recently submitted his resignation to the PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in what is widely considered a tacit admission of responsibility for the scandalous Jazeera revelations concerning  Palestinian negotiators’ willingness to sell out Palestinian rights to Israel.

Infuriated and embarrassed by these revelations, the (PA) swore  that al-Jazeera was acting maliciously and conspiratorially against the PLO and Ramallah regime.

PA spokesmen went as far as accusing the pan-Arab network of colluding with Israel to distort PA image and Palestinian struggle as a whole. One PA operative would have us believe that the very existence of al-Jazeera is a Zionist enterprise aimed at fighting the cause of liberty and revolution in the Arab world.

Coming from the PA, which is viewed by many as a group of quislings working against their own people in cahoots with Israel, these accusations don’t warrant a response. They are too cheap and too mendacious to be dignified with a comment.

None the less, I would want to ask the former chief Palestinian negotiator, Dr. Saeb Ereikat, a number of questions regarding the protracted and barren negotiations with Israel.

I’m not asking these questions because I want to embarrass Mr. Ereikat, as some Fatah fanatics might think. In the final analysis, the Palestinian people have a legitimate right to know the tiniest detail of these talks which have been going on for more than 15 years without achieving any result.

I’m not, of course, blaming Ereikat or his colleagues for the futility and  fruitlessness of the negotiations, if only because  I realize that Israel never wanted to reach true and dignified peace with the Palestinians lest it be forced to pay the price for that peace, namely end its occupation of Arab  land and allow Palestinians to achieve their self-determination.

I would want to start with the al-Jazeera’s Palestinian Papers, which have upset PA leaders and officials as never before, prompting  them to react or overreact in strange even spasmodic ways, such as organizing anti-Aljazeera demonstrations and waging a wide propaganda campaign against it.

My  first question to Sa’eb Ereikat is: Don’t you see that the PA was actually  displaying  an image of an entity that was   too fragile and too vulnerable, so much that it was shaken to the core by a mere TV documentary, containing  certain revelations about Palestinian negotiating behavior?

More to the point, why did  the PA pay  so much, even disproportionate  attention to the secondary issue of who leaked the papers in question while paying much lesser attention to the central question of whether the content of the documents was true or false.

Now we want to delve into the real subject of negotiation with Israel. You know that Palestinian negotiators have been saying all along that they are committed to the so-called Palestinian national constants which include, inter alia, total Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 armistice lines, which we have come to call borders,  and  the implementation of the right of return  in accordance with UN resolution 194.

The PA says that unlike Hamas it deals with the national cause in a realistic and pragmatic manner. If so, one is prompted to ask Dr. Ereikat if PA negotiators believe even in their wildest dreams that Israel would allow for the repatriation of millions of Palestinian refugees uprooted from their homes in what is now Israel when the criminal entity was established more 63 years ago.

There is no doubt that Ereikat and his colleagues would recognize the “utter un-realism and un-pragmatism ” of expecting a full or even significant repatriation of the refugees. In fact, several PA officials, including  PLO Secretary Yasser Abed Rabbo, who argued openly that it  would be “unfair” to  ask  Israel to accommodate millions of Palestinian refugees as if  expelling these  refugees from their homes  were an act of fairness and  not a crime against humanity.

In any case, if demanding the full and total  repatriation of the refugees are out  of question or  unlikely or  unrealistic, then why does the PA not confront the Palestinian  people with the “truth” and tell them straight in the face to refrain from harboring wild expectations with regard to the right of return?

More specifically, is the PA using  the right of  return  as a bargaining chip to  get Israel to be more flexible on other sticky issues such as  settlements and statehood?

Another issue. The PA has been saying that it  won’t accept anything  less that a total Israeli withdrawal from East Jerusalem. However, it has been sufficiently clear that the PA has effectively accepted as a foregone conclusion that Israel would be able  to annex nearly all  Jewish colonies built  in East Jerusalem since 1967. Israel would even be able to add to  its spoils  the so-called Jewish neighborhoods, including the Armenian quarter.

Now, doesn’t this stand  on the part  of  Palestinian negotiators undermine the long-held Palestinian stance which  insists on the totality of the Israeli withdrawal from the entirety of the West Bank?

Finally, does Mr.  Ereikat deny the fact that PA operatives, especially security chiefs, have been coordinating with Israeli army commanders,  against Palestinian groups deemed hostile  to Israel?

I remember an Israeli journalist a few years ago who reported on  a security coordination meeting at Bet El near Ramallah, which brought together Israeli and  Palestinian security officials.

The journalist, Danny Rubenstein, quoted the chief of the Palestinian delegation as saying that “we are allies, not enemies, and we have one common enemy, and it is called Hamas.”

My question to you  Mr. Ereikat is how is  it that the PA constantly seeks Arab and international  support against Israel while the same PA excellent  working relations with Israel on the ground?

I do hope that with the Egyptian, Tunisian and Libyan revolutions, the harrowing of Palestinian negotiators to reach a deal with Israel will stop. This is undoubtedly the desire of the bulk of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims.

There is no text in the Holy Quran stating that the Palestinian cause must be resolved in 2011 or 2020.

Questions I would want to ask Sa’eb Ereikat.

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