BERLIN – The Palestinian envoy to the United States Maen Rashid Areikat said on Tuesday in Washington that the Palestinian Liberation Organization opposes the immediate presence of Jews and gays in an independent Palestinian state, according to reports in US-based publications The Daily Caller and The Weekly Standard.

When asked by Jamie Weinstein, senior editor and columnist for The Daily Caller, whether a Jew could be elected mayor of Ramallah in an independent Palestinian state, Areikat said, “after the experience of 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it will be in the best interests of the two peoples to be separated first.”

Areikat added that “Well, I personally still believe that as a first step we need to be totally separated, and we can contemplate these issues in the future.”

In response to a query from John McCormack from The Weekly Standard about whether homosexuals would be tolerated in a newly-formed Palestinian state, “Ah, this is an issue that’s beyond my [authority].” said Areikat.

In an e-mail to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Weinstein wrote that, “Similar comments coming from an Israeli official would merit worldwide condemnation. But we hear nothing from the world community when the Palestinian ambassador to the US calls for a Jew-free state.

“Pushing for a state for the Palestinian Arabs is well and good, but it seems like the world should spend a little bit of time pondering what sort of state it will be.”

Areikat’s controversial comments took place at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor to discuss an independent Palestinian state.

Weinstein’s questioning triggered widespread coverage in the national US media, including an article in USA Today headlined “PLO ambassador says Palestinian state should be free of Jews.”

The Weekly Standard magazine wrote on its website yesterday that “Palestinian Ambassador Won’t Say if Homosexuals Would Be Tolerated by a Palestinian State.”

Palestinian gays and lesbians frequently seek refuge in Israel because of anti-gay persecution in the disputed West Bank territory and the Gaza Strip. The Hamas-controlled Gaza strip has declared lethal homophobia to be its policy. Hamas cofounder Mahmoud Zahar has said, “You in the West do not live like human beings. You do not even live like animals. You accept homosexuality. And now you criticize us?”

In an April broadcast on Hamas’s Al-Aksa TV, which was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Syrian academic Muhammad Rateb al- Nabulsi said, “Homosexuality involves a filthy place, and does not generate offspring. Homosexuality leads to the destruction of the homosexual. That is why, brothers, homosexuality carries the death penalty.”

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger