A leaked audio recording of chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat harshly criticising Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas exposed severe fissures within the Palestinian leadership, and showed profound disdain by Erekat for his president, reports The Times of Israel.
In the video, Erekat says Abbas has lost his credibility, slams his “useless” approach to confrontation with Israel, and compares him to Saddam Hussein and Bashar al Assad. The top Palestinian negotiator also says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal who isn’t “worth the bullet” to shoot him.
Erekat’s harsh comments offered a rare glimpse at the debate within Abbas’s close circle surrounding the Palestinian diplomatic strategy toward Israel.
At the outset of negotiations last July, the Palestinians pledged to US Secretary of State John Kerry that they would not apply for membership in international bodies during the nine-month negotiating period in return for the release of Palestinian terror prisoners held by Israel. On April 1, Abbas surprised Israel and the US by applying to 15 international bodies and treaties, but has so far refrained from joining more robust organizations such as the International Criminal Court where Palestinians could seek recourse for alleged Israeli war crimes.
In his comments, Erekat said there could be no hope of reaching a negotiated solution with Netanyahu. The only way to force the Israeli premier to make concessions is by branding him a war criminal in international courts, he said.
“Without a cane to his ass [Netanyahu won’t act]. I don’t say shoot him. He isn’t worth the bullet…he’s ideologically corrupt, I’ve known him for 31 years.”
“Why did Netanyahu engage in these random negotiations if not to build more settlements? …You, Abu Mazen, have the ability to prevent Netanyahu from traveling anywhere in the world, except from Ben-Gurion airport to New York. He’s a despicable, filthy war criminal.”
According to Erekat, Abbas has lost his credibility not only domestically and with the Israelis, but also in the larger Arab world.
“Quite honestly, the Arabs don’t believe you [Abbas],” Erekat continued. “They either doubt you, or attack you, or are scared of you … He [Abbas] is 79 years old. How much longer will he live? All he must do is take a patriotic stand. He can do anything, but it seems like he wants to become like Bashar Assad or Saddam Hussein … this way of thinking is useless. There are cards in your hand — use them.