TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s administration is orchestrating a “coup” to get rid of the Palestinian leadership and his Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley should learn to “shut up” and refrain from criticizing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Secretary of the PLO Executive Committee Saeb Erekat said in an interview published on Saturday.
“Nikki Haley needs to shut up and realize that the Palestinian leadership is not the problem,” the top Palestinian diplomat said in interview with the Palestinian Al-Watan Voice news website. “Instead, the problem is the Israeli occupation and the policies it continues to pursue. I’m not saying that we don’t make mistakes; every society and every government makes mistakes.”
His remarks came in response to Haley’s condemnation of a speech given by Abbas at the PLO’s most recent meeting in which the PA chief spread lies and anti-Semitic verbal abuse against Israel.
“She called for overthrowing the democratically elected Palestinian president,” Erekat complained, calling the UN envoy “impudent.”
Erekat, who was the PA’s chief negotiator, failed to mention that Abbas’ four-year term ended in 2012 and since then no elections have been held.
“This is the president who led the peace process and promoted the principle of the two-state solution,” Erekat said. “Now this ambassador is accusing him of lacking courage, and is calling for replacing him.”
“The Palestinian people are loyal to their martyrs, prisoners, wounded, struggles, steadfastness and heroism. This is the reality. The Palestinians are the only ones who are entitled to hold their leaders accountable.”
In her speech last week, Haley slammed Abbas for peddling “outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories.”
“President Abbas declared the landmark Oslo Peace Accords dead. He rejected any American role in peace talks. He insulted the American President. He called for suspending recognition of Israel. He invoked an ugly and fictional past, reaching back to the 17th century to paint Israel as a colonialist project engineered by European powers,” Haley said.
“A speech that indulges in outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories is not the speech of a person with the courage and the will to seek peace,” she added.
“I ask here today, where is the Palestinian King Hussein? Where is the Palestinian Anwar Sadat?” she continued, paying homage to the Jordanian and Egyptian leaders who made peace with Israel. “If President Abbas demonstrates he can be that type of leader, we would welcome it. His recent actions demonstrate the total opposite.”
Erekat said that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his envoy’s incendiary comments was tantamount to staging a “coup” against the “Palestinian political system.”
Israel and the U.S., he said, sought to “liquidate the Palestinian national project.”
“U.S. and Israeli officials are saying that any Palestinian leader who insists on East Jerusalem becoming the capital of Palestine and is committed to the right of return, in accordance with United Nations resolution 194, should be removed from power and replaced,” he said.
“The Palestinian leadership has told the Americans and Israelis that, even after 1,000 years, they will not find any Palestinian who will collaborate with their scheme,” Erekat said.
“We will take Trump’s decision [to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel] to the International Court of Justice and we will seek membership in more international agencies,” he said.
“We don’t seek a confrontation or a fight with the U.S. administration,” Erekat said. “On the contrary — they are the ones taking several steps. The U.S. administration is itself saying that it’s not an honest broker in the peace process. Therefore, we are seeking, together with international parties, to convene an international conference for peace.”