July 14, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Morton A. Klein
For annotated version:
"Refugees" - owed $140 billion
Palestinian Authority (PA) senior official and head of its negotiations
department, Saeb Erekat, has said in a detailed interview with an Arabic
newspaper that no Jews should be permitted to stay in a Palestinian state,
that Palestinians have an "absolute right" to the eastern half of Jerusalem
and that, as Israel's negotiating positions have weakened and been
concessionary over the years, the Palestinians should agree to nothing now
and allow Israel to concede still more.
Erekat's remarks in an interview with Jordanian daily, Al-Dustour:
· "[Likewise], nobody should agree to Israeli settlers remaining in
the Palestinian [state]. We must not compare a Palestinian [whose family]
lived in Palestine [long] before Netanyahu or his forefathers arrived, and
who is still living there, to a settler who is living on Palestinian soil
[and maintaining his presence there through] coercion, oppression and
unacceptable [use of] force. We must not talk of land swap before we
establish our sovereignty in practice...
· "We have an absolute right to east Jerusalem. We cannot not listen
to the voices that ask who will run Al-Aqsa. We revere and sanctify the
Al-Aqsa mosque, as well as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, but they are no
different from Rafah, Jericho, and the refugee camp of Aqbat Jabr. All these
places were occupied by Israel, and I must not distinguish between them. No
one should say that Al-Aqsa must be managed by a 'Muslim' or 'Arab,' [rather
than by a Palestinian].
· "Many people say that the [Israeli-Palestinian] negotiations of the
last 10 or 15 years were useless and yielded nothing, but [that is not
true]. In 1994 [i.e. during the Oslo negotiations] the Palestinian side
could have capitulated and gained an achievement within one month. [That
is,] we could have agreed to undertake the management of the education and
health [systems] in the West Bank. [Likewise] Yasser Arafat could have
accepted what was offered him at Camp David [in 2000], instead of [letting
himself] be besieged in the Muqata'a and then murdered for no reason.
President Mahmoud 'Abbas could have accepted [Olmert's] December 2008
proposal, [but he preferred to wait] ... [Some ask] where the negotiations
with the Israeli side have brought us. First [the Israelis] said we would
[only have the right to] run our own schools and hospitals. Then they
consented to give us 66% [of the occupied territories]. "At Camp David they
offered 90%, and [recently] they offered 100%. So why should we hurry, after
the all the injustice we have suffered? The agreement will not be stable
anyway, unless it is based on international law and on justice."
· "The problem of the [Palestinian] refugees is not the result of a
volcano [eruption], earthquake, or flood. Someone caused it. Before we talk
of international law, we must pinpoint the element responsible, and Israel
must acknowledge this responsibility. The Palestinian decision makers do not
have the right to decide the fate of the refugees; only the refugee himself
can decide his own fate. It is not up to the international [community]
either. It is the refugee who has the right to choose whether to return to
Israel, return to Palestine, or remain where he is - and in all of these
cases [he is entitled to] compensation. It is not the Right of Return or
compensation; it's the Right of Return and compensation. Should Israel
acknowledge its responsibility, and should the world want to resolve the
conflict, there would be a need to establish an international mechanism to
bear the cost. I estimate that we are talking about $140 billion."
· "We do not see Iran as posing a threat to us. Iran is a country in
the region with whom we [sometimes] disagree and [sometimes] agree. I want
Iran to stand by the Palestinians and support the Palestinian cause without
favoring one side [i.e. Hamas] over the other [i.e. the PLO/Fatah]. But Iran
does not pose a threat to the region; that is an invention used by
Netanyahu to convince the world."
· "Obama must launch his initiative for reviving the peace [process]
as soon as possible, for otherwise the region will be driven into an abyss
of violence, chaos, and extremism, and that is a serious problem that must
be addressed..." ('MEMRI: Saeb Ereqat: Over the Years, Israel Has Gradually
Withdrawn from Its Positions; Therefore, We Have No Reason to Hurry,' Middle
East media Research Institute (MEMRI), July 13, 2009).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, "Saeb Erekat has demonstrated
in detail that the PA remains opposed to Israel's right to exist as a Jewish
state. He has provided further proof -though none is needed - to show that
the PA demand that Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem become judenrein is
official Palestinian policy. Conversely, he has shown that the PA's Salaam
Fayyad's recent words in English to an American audience which implied that
Jews would be allowed to live in a future Palestinian state were fraudulent.
"If Palestinians cannot accept a Jewish presence in a future Palestinian
state, then that fact itself is indication enough that they are not prepared
to live in peace with Israel. Who is prepared to argue that a people that
resolutely insists on throwing all Jews out of their country, that
criminalizes the sale of land to Jews and that lynches those deemed guilty
of "collaborating" with Israel by having sold land to Jews is actually ready
to live in peace alongside the Jewish state of Israel?
"Erekat also shows that the PA is accustomed to getting Israeli concessions
over time without having to give anything in return. His candid words on
this subject underscore the great harm Israel has done itself by pursuing a
course of concessions -especially unilateral ones - with the Palestinians
before demanding that they adhere to their own signed commitments under the
Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan to arrest terrorists, outlaw
terrorist groups and end the incitement to hatred and murder in their
controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feed terrorism.
"In all other respects - demanding a so-called 'right of return' for
Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war and their millions of descendants;
demanding that the heart of the Jewish people and Judaism - Jerusalem - be
torn out and given to a Palestinian regime that has never ruled the city or
had its own capital there; pretending that Iran poses no threat to Israel,
the region or the united States even giving voice to the incendiary
falsehood that Israel murdered Yasser Arafat - Erekat provides several
indications of the continuing Palestinian refusal to accept Israel as a
Jewish state and to seek pretexts and strategies to vilify her."