Greenblatt, PA officials face-off in form of Twitter diplomacy

As a result of the law, the PA said it would forgo receiving US financial aid.

By
February 5, 2019 16:23
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jason Greenblatt.

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, in Ramallah. Is he Israel’s fearless friend in Washington?. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The Trump administration’s peace team is separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip and killing chances of peace between Palestinians and Israelis, PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat tweeted on Tuesday, as a strikingly undiplomatic exchange between the US and Palestinian officials entered its fourth day.

“The US so-called peace team,” Erekat wrote, has not only added to the separation of Gaza from the West Bank, but has “destroyed any chance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”


Erekat said that the PA held 37 meetings with the US team in 2017, but “they never shared with us their ideas or even their vision of peace. They refused our requests to help resume direct bilateral negotiations with the Israeli side.”

The Palestinian Authority broke off all contact with the administration of US President Donald Trump in December 2017 after it announced that Washington was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving its embassy there.

Erekat, in his tweets on Tuesday, said that this move broke a promise Trump gave PA President Mahmoud Abbas when they met in the White House seven months earlier that he would “engage for 12 months, and not take any action that may preempt or prejudge issues reserved for permanent status negotiations, including Jerusalem.”

The PLO official also bewailed that the US team “visited and revived Israeli settlers” and, in a slam against US Ambassador David Friedman, said that, “President Trump must be told the truth about the damage that his ambassador in Israel has done to the mere idea of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”


Erekat’s lengthy Twitter thread was the latest installment of an angry exchange that began on Friday, when Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt reacted to Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh’s response to the discontinuation of $61 million that the US had been providing annually for a funding and training program for the PA’s security services, because of the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act.

That law stipulates that those who receive US aid will come under jurisdiction of US courts in terror-related lawsuits. As a result of that law coming into effect on February 1, the PA said it would forgo receiving US financial aid.

After sharply criticizing Rudeineh for his response to the aid cut, Greenblatt took Erekat to task for saying: “We don’t want to receive any money if it will cause us to appear before the courts.”

“So let me get this clear – you want only benefits and no responsibilities?” Greenblatt asked.



Greenblatt’s swipe at Erekat triggered a Twitter reply from the long-standing Palestinian negotiator on Saturday.

“We don’t want to evade responsibilities – we want to protect our people and interests against the unjust accusations of terrorism that the American courts take for granted.” Erekat tweeted. “Our responsibilities are not determined by American courts but by our moral and political commitments.”

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi got into the fray, insulting Greenblatt in a tweet that read: “Twitter diplomacy/policy is the triumph of narrow minds, anemic intellects & minuscule attention spans, precluding thorough & responsible analytical/critical interactions that are honest, contextual & insightful. We are witnessing the global ramifications of this failure.”

She continued: “The instant gratification of a tweet can never be a substitute for a serious engagement in search of genuine solutions. Those who think they’re transmitting knowledge, political solutions or negotiating positions via Twitter are ‘engaged’ only in self deception.”


On Sunday, Greenblatt responded to Ashrawi’s tweet with one of his own: “Dr. Ashrawi – my door is always open to the PA & Palestinians to speak. In fact, I’ve met many Palestinians over the past 14 months & continue to [do so]. I’m happy to meet anytime – you, Saeb & all your colleagues are ALWAYS welcome to visit me at the @WhiteHouse to speak in person.”

On Monday, he also called out Erekat in a tweet for spreading “misinformation” that he was trying to separate Gaza from the West Bank.

“Gaza & the West Bank have been separated for TEN years, physically & politically – between the PA & Hamas. Stop denying that reality,” he wrote. “I’ve gone on record multiple times saying our peace plan hopes to bring them together, if possible. But we cannot pretend (nor should you) that the hatred between Hamas & Fatah doesn’t exist. We are in this to help all Palestinians, in both the West Bank and Gaza.

“Saeb, please have more respect for the Palestinians in both Gaza & the West Bank; they deserve it. Please stop misleading them with information you know is not true,” Greenblatt wrote, paving the way for Erekat’s angry Twitter response on Tuesday.

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