Saturday, February 19, 2011

Taken for a Ride on the Peace (Process) Train

"Official sources in Palestine have reported that the Chief Negotiator for the Palestinian Authority [Dr Saeb Erekat] has resigned from his post... The reason for the resignation, claims the Maan News Agency, are the leaks of what are now called 'The Palestine Papers' published by Al-Jazeera satellite television and Britain's Guardian newspaper. Although an internal PA investigation cleared Dr Erekat of any involvement in the leaks, he believes that the documents were leaked from his office and so he must take ultimate responsibility. In Gaza, a Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, said that Erekat's resignation proves his involvement in 'giving up the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people'." (Chief Palestinian negotiator resigns, George Rishmawi,, 14/2/11)

What a shame! To give you just a snapshot or three of the PA's Clown Prince in action, here are some extracts from one of the Palestine Papers, Minutes from Expert Committee on State-to-State (11/5/08, Inbal Hotel, West Jerusalem). They reveal the process as akin to the kind of negotiations you might expect a chicken to undertake with a fox while it's being eaten. Sad, so utterly sad:

Saeb Erekat: How have you been?
Yossi Gal: Not too bad, can't complain, how about you?
SE: I'm lying. I've been lying for the last weeks.
YG: Between jogging?
SE: No, no, lying, lying. I was in Cairo, I was in Jordan, I was in America. Everybody is asking me, what is going on in Israel, what is Olmert going to do?
YG: And you are telling everyone we are the verge of success.
SE: And I always tell them this is an internal Israeli matter, a domestic Israeli matter, and I keep lying. If somebody sneezes in Tel Aviv, I get the flu in Jericho, and I have to lie. So that's my last week - all lies.
YG: As a professor of negotiations, you know that white lies are allowed now and then.
SE: I'm not complaing, I'm admitting - and sometimes I don't feel like lying.
YG: Well, around the table we won't be lying.
SE: Give it to us, Yossi. We are trying to be over-protectionist at this stage, because when we speak about a country with limited arms, we cannot speak about a country with limited dignity. And this is why we have to cover ourselves with everything you do with our nations. Because at this stage we haven't sensed your concept of what you see to be a Palestinian state. All that we have seen reflected in all of the committees are fears, suspicions, doubting me, doubting my ability, and ever since I have never heard an Israeli official telling me he has trust in me. And they keep telling me 'Gaza'. Okay, I was a criminal in Gaza. I made a mistake. I destroyed myself, but even if someone shoots someone, they execute him once. I am being executed by Israeli officials and Israeli negotiators on the hour, every hour, in each session. So, this is why please understand where we are coming - I just want to cut the long story short here: We haven't seen any attempt by any of you, Olmert down - and the last time we sit with you and play 'neon stupid' on our foreheads - because we don't see exactly where you are coming from and where you are going, and so on. So, as a state, we feel the need to protect ourselves with international law, treaties, conventions... maybe in the future when we see that you are changing your attitudes... like for instance on security. You know when you say there are threats coming from the East in Israeli minds, that is when Palestinians take over Jordan. And because of that 28% of the Jordan Valley must have emergency locations, I don't know, soldiers... I am being so honest now - I am not lying - because I lied too much last week for Israelis, and I am telling you where we are coming from.
SE: Once we feel we are being taken for a ride, we get protective - that is the only defence. Because ever since Eve negotiated [with] Adam, I am the most disadvantaged negotiator in history. No country, no army, no navy, no economy, people are fragmented, defeated in Gaza, so that is - I am trying to explain to you why we [have] these 8 with all of these caveats. Protection.

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