“Genocide” is the correct term to describe Israel’s actions in Gaza this summer, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told Channel 2 in a brief interview on Sunday night.
“Ignoring facts does not mean they do not exist,” Erekat said, as he defended Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s use of the word in his speech Friday before the opening session of the United Nation’s General Assembly in New York.
Israelis from the left and the right of the political spectrum, as well as the US State Department blasted Abbas’s speech.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu plans to negate Abbas’s accusations when he addresses the UN General Assembly on Monday.
“I will refute all the lies being directed at us,” Netanyahu said before boarding a plane for New York on Sunday morning.
Erekat retorted on Channel 2 that the reality of thousands of children orphaned by the war and the 91 families that were simply wiped out, was worse than anything Abbas said at the UN.
“The question is how do you see the Palestinian people. Do you see us as people?” Erekat asked.
The Palestinians who live in Gaza are just as human as Israelis and what happened to them over the summer was “absolutely unjust,” Erekat said.
“It is really unacceptable the mere fact that we used the word ‘genocide’ is angering Netanyahu, [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Liberman and the spokeswoman for the state department,” Erekat said.
He also took issue with the US response.
Abbas, Erekat said, “based every sentence and every word in his speech upon international law, and the bases and foundations of international law. And such a reaction from the American spokeswoman is really unacceptable and inappropriate.”
The Palestinians, Erekat said, were working to preserve a two-state solution on the pre-1967 armistice lines, while Israeli actions were thwarting that possibility and ensuring that the only option left would be a one state solution.
Erekat charged that Netanyahu and his right-wing government were to blame for the failed peace process.
“It could have been better if we had a partner in Mr. Netanyahu and the members of his cabinet,” Erekat said.
Earlier in the day Liberman charged that Abbas had foiled any chance of a negotiated solution.
“The man is not a partner for anything, certainly not a diplomatic one. He has exhausted everyone, not just the Israelis, but the entire international community. Even the Arab world has tired of Abu Mazen (Abbas),” Liberman told Army Radio.
“I cannot recall a time when the Palestinian conflict has taken a back seat to such an extent as it has at these opening sessions. They are talking about everything, Ebola, Iraq, ISIS [Islamic State] and Ukraine. But the Palestinian issue is almost nonexistent. We have to understand that to talk about a breakthrough or a new diplomatic horizon, you can’t do it alone.
“You need a trusted partner, a serious partner, one who can deliver on the goods,” Liberman said.
Liberman acknowledged that the passage of time had not changed his opinion of Abbas as harmful to the peace process.
“I came to my conclusions many years ago.
I am sorry that it took others such a long time to get there,” he said.
“If we had not wasted time with Abu Mazen we would have gotten better results. But we should not dictate to the Palestinians who should be their leaders,” Liberman added.
On Sunday evening, the PLO’s negotiating department sent the media quotes from 18 UN General Assembly speeches by world leaders that addressed the plight of the Palestinians and the conflict with Israel.
On Friday, the Prime Minister of Belgium Elio Di Rupo spoke of the importance of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We must put the settlement of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict back at the top of the international agenda, the settlement will constitute as well an important factor in stabilization and peace in the entire region and the world. Therefore, we welcome the efforts of [US] President [Barack] Obama in this regard, and we hope that he will continue up to the last day of his mandate to work in this direction,” he said.
Liberman met with the foreign ministers of Greece, Austria, Rwanda and Canada in New York on Sunday. At the General Assembly he will meet with his counterparts from India, New Zealand, Uganda, Czech Republic and Malta. He will also talk with the recently appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein of Jordan.