Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat speaks during a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 2, 2012..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian leadership will not allow the US or any other party to tamper with or change the Arab Peace Initiative, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said on Saturday, referring to the 10-sentence proposal for an end to the Israeli-Arab conflict that was first endorsed by the Arab League in 2002.
Erekat’s statement came during an interview with the Palestinian Authority’s Voice of Palestine radio station.
He was commenting on a US effort to convene a summit in Poland next month to build pressure against Iran’s influence in the Middle East. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has dismissed the planned event as a “desperate anti-Iran circus.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who announced the planned summit during his recent Middle East tour, told Fox News that the meeting would “focus on Middle East stability and peace and freedom and security here in this region, and that includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence.”
Erekat claimed that the purpose of the summit was to “deepen differences in the region.” He added: “The State of Palestine and the PLO are entrusted with conducting negotiations on behalf of our Palestinian people, and they didn’t ask any other party to speak on our behalf.”
He was referring to the possibility that some Arab countries may attend the planned summit.
“There’s an Arab position that is represented through the Arab Peace Initiative and the Dhahran Arab Summit, Erekat added. The PLO, he said, is the “only party authorized to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians, in its capacity as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians.”
The 29th Arab League summit that was held last year in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, stressed the importance of a lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East “as a strategic Arab option embodied in the Arab Peace Initiative... which is still the most comprehensive plan to address all final status issues, provides security, acceptance and peace to Israel with all Arab countries.”
According to Erekat, the world has by now noticed the “American game to bypass the PLO.”
He claimed that some Palestinians were in collusion with “this conspiracy.” He did not say which Palestinians he was referring to. However, he condemned Hamas for sending a letter to the United Nations protesting against the decision to hand the presidency of Group 77 and China to PA President Mahmoud Abbas in New York last week.
The letter, which Hamas said was signed by 80 civil society organizations in the Gaza Strip, pointed out that Abbas was not authorized to speak on behalf of the Palestinians or represent them because his four-year-term in office had expired in January 2009.
Erekat accused the US of “preparing for regional solutions and saying that others are capable of negotiating on behalf of the Palestinian people.”
He also accused unnamed parties of “contributing financially, politically and economically to separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip on instructions from [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and [US President Donald] Trump.”
Referring to recent leaks concerning Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East, Erekat said they were “unworthy of comment and a trial balloon.” The Palestinians, he said, “should not fall into the trap of commenting on and replying to trial balloons.”