Ever since the Trump White House officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6, Palestinians have not been happy, going so far as to tell Nikki Haley to basically put a cork in it.
Over the weekend, a senior Palestinian official, Saeb Erekat, accused the White House of conducting a coup to depose Palestinian leadership.
As part of that rant, Erekat referred to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley as “impudent” and went so far as to say that Haley should “shut up” regarding her criticism of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Erekat then said he didn’t seek a confrontation with the U.S. administration.
Instead, he said the U.S. is the aggressor, based on the steps they’ve already taken. Palestine views American as a dishonest broker in the peace process.
Erekat says that Palestine is working with other international parties to “convene an international conference for peace.”
Erekat serves as secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization and has led the Palestinian peace negotiations to date.
Why did Erekat single out Haley?
Nikki Haley addressed the U.N. after President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in Davos, Switzerland at the economic summit. In that speech, the president criticized the Palestinians and said they needed to bring more to the table in terms of the peace process. President Trump threatened to remove funding if they didn’t.
Afterwards, Abbas engaged in a real tantrum, telling President Trump “Damn your money”, and proceeded to launch into a real anti-Semitic meltdown.
So Haley called him on it, addressing the U.N. session and accusing Abbas of outrageous conspiracy theories regarding the Israelis and telling him that he lacked what it took to secure peace in the region.
Haley: “A speech that indulges in outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories is not the speech of a person with the courage and will to seek real peace.”
She proceeded to further shame Abbas, comparing his shortcomings to effective regional leaders like the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who Haley described as a true leader, “willing to acknowledge hard truths and make compromises.”
Instead, Haley pointed out that Abbas has thrown temper tantrums, refusing any American role in talks. Abbas told the New York Times that after what the U.S. had done to them during the recognition of Jerusalem, “a believer shall not be stung twice in the same place.”
Haley said that Abbas’ response of rejecting an American role in the peace process and insulting President Trump shows that he is not a capable leader. “While the U.S. is eager to pursue peace, we will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what’s needed to achieve peace,” Haley stated.
Indeed, Palestine has stated that the Jerusalem recognition as the Israeli capital is null and void in their eyes. They even called for suspending recognition of Israel by the U.N.
Haley stated that Abbas’ actions are a more 17th century of Arab oppression rather than 21st century forward thinking.
Abbas and Erekat say they insist on respect for Palestine’s rights. They reject Trump’s unilateral decision, referring to it as a provocative move. They say the decision has no legal merit.
Erekat defended Abbas as a democratically elected Palestinian leader and credited him for leading the peace process thus far. Abbas is a proponent of the two-state solution, where East Jerusalem becomes the Palestinian capital. But would that ever work? It’s hard to believe, given the decades of violence in the region.
Erekat doubled down on Haley’s comments, saying that her remarks added to Trump’s remarks show that the Israeli occupation is the real problem and that Israel and the US were working together to “undermine the Palestinian national project.”
Erekat stresses that the Palestinians will seek diplomatic efforts at the UN Security Council International Court of Justice, as well as at other international forums.
Erekat’s critics say he has a talent for spreading disinformation about Israel, and that he is known for cultivating terrorism.
Trump’s declaration put the Palestinians under a degree of pressure they’ve never before experienced.
Indeed, Haley’s comments beckoning to foregone Arab leaders does make one take pause because those past leaders would never have reacted to Trump’s declaration the way today’s leaders did. Here are a few excerpts.
The head of the Hamas government in the Gaza strip, Ismail Haniyah, called for terrorism and armed struggle that continues at length to make Trump regret his decision.
Abbas said Trump’s move was to reward Israel for its continued policy of ethnic cleansing.
Khamenei, the leader of Iran, said that Trump represents a modern-day pharaoh and that the Islamic world will stand against them. He said the Zionists will receive a big blow.
Erekat himself said that Trump has shown that the “two-state solution is over and that the Islamic world must transform the struggle to ensure Palestine stretches from the river to the sea.” Given the geography, stretching from the river to the sea would mean that Palestine would take over Israel, so this is basically a call for Jewish genocide.