Greenblatt: Time to replace Palestinian chief negotiator

After Saeb Erekat penned a scathing op-ed accusing the US of being Israel’s “partner in occupation,” Greenblatt said the time has come for “other Palestinian perspectives.”

By: World Israel News Staff

Jason Greenblatt, Special Representative for International Negotiations to US President Donald Trump called in an op-ed published Sunday to replace Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator to the diplomatic process.

Palestinians “deserve so much more than Saeb Erekat,” Greenblatt wrote in the opinion piece, published in Israel’s Ha’aretz.

Greenblatt said he was responding to Erekat’s “outburst.”

Greenblatt was referring to an op-ed in May in the same publication, titled “Partners in Occupation: Trump Provides the anti-Palestinian Incitement, Israel the Bullets,” in which Erekat criticized the move of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and alleged that the US has become a partner in Israel’s “occupation.”

“While I understand that Dr. Erekat is angry about President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, I thought it would be more helpful to discuss some of the issues demanding Palestinian leaders’ immediate attention, first and foremost of which is contributing to an atmosphere conducive to peace,” Greenblatt wrote.

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Erekat’s “rhetoric and his claims were in many respects simply inaccurate,” he wrote, calling for all to “join together to reject such unhelpful rhetoric and false claims if we hope to achieve peace.”

“For far too long, the United States has turned a deaf ear to such words, but ignoring hateful and false words has not brought peace and it will never bring peace,” he said.

In an attempt to set the record straight regarding the embassy move, Greenblatt said that by moving it to Jerusalem, the US has “provided a realistic basis for direct negotiations. The move was not, as Dr. Erekat baselessly claimed, part of a US attempt to force an Israeli-written agreement on the Palestinians.”

Noting the recent uptick in Hamas-led violence on Israel’s border with Gaza, Greenblatt wrote that when “Erekat and the Palestinian Authority “are finally ready to reject Hamas’ violence and lies and work with us to bring relief to Gaza, we believe real progress could be made that would lay the foundation for a more hopeful future.”

Time for a new Palestinian voice

“It is time to stop indulging in overwrought rhetoric and give the Palestinian people something beyond words,” Greenblatt wrote of Erekat’s conduct. “Palestinian leadership must create better lives, not sacrifice those lives for Hamas’ grim agenda of terror.”

Greenblatt wote that in the 16 months since he took office, he has heard many Palestinian voices that disagree with Erekat’s approach.

“Yet, the sad thing is that most will only meet and speak honestly and openly in private because they are afraid to speak publicly,” he noted.

Addressing Erekat directly, Greenblatt said, “We have heard your voice for decades and it has not achieved anything close to Palestinian aspirations or anything close to a comprehensive peace agreement. Other Palestinian perspectives might help us finally achieve a comprehensive peace agreement where Palestinian and Israeli lives can be better.”

‘The Palestinian people want real action’

“The time for leadership and responsibility is now. The time for meeting after meeting of government officials repeating the same talking points is over. The Palestinian people want real action, and they need honest, realistic and decisive solutions,” he declared.

He also called on the Palestinians to address reality. “The notion that Israel is going away – or that Jerusalem is not its capital – is a mirage. The notion that the United States is not the critical interlocutor for the peace process is a mirage.”

“The reality is that there is an opportunity for peace at hand and that President Trump and his administration are working to help facilitate a peace that will open up the future of the Palestinian people, if they and their leadership have the courage to seize it,” he concluded.

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The Palestinians have been boycotting Washington since December when Trump announced that the US officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel capital, and they have since escalated their rhetoric and actions against the US.