Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat submitted his resignation on Saturday after assuming responsibility for the “theft” of hundreds of documents from his office.
The documents, which have become known as the “Palestine Papers,” were used by the Al-Jazeera network as “evidence” that Erekat and other Palestinian leaders had made far-reaching concessions during the peace negotiations with Israel.
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The leaked documents have seriously embarrassed the PA leadership, whose representatives accused Al-Jazeera of waging a smear campaign against them.
PA leaders initially said that the documents were forged. Later, they admitted that the documents were authentic and claimed they had been stolen from Erekat’s office.
Erekat’s resignation came during a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee under the chairmanship of President Mahmoud Abbas, who has yet to accept it.
“My resignation came because I bear full responsibility for the theft of the documents from my office,” Erekat was quoted as saying.
He once again accused the Qatar-based TV station of “forgery and distortion.”
Last week, Erekat hinted that he would resign if a commission of inquiry set up by the PA leadership held him responsible for failing to prevent the leaking of the Palestine Papers.
Erekat had earlier accused a US citizen who worked in his office of stealing the documents and handing them over to Al- Jazeera.
Erekat, who has been a leading negotiator with Israel for the past two
decades, said after the documents were revealed by Al- Jazeera that his
life was in danger.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official, confirmed that Erekat had
submitted his resignation to Abbas. However, Abed Rabbo said Abbas still
had to “study” the resignation.
Nabil Sha’ath, a member of the PA negotiating team who is expected to
replace Erekat, claimed that the chief negotiator quit because there
were no negotiations with Israel.
“He doesn’t want to stay without work,” Sha’ath said of Erekat.