Senior Palestinian Authority official and lead negotiator Saeb Erekat insulted United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Saturday calling her “impudent” and said she should learn to “shut up” and refrain from criticizing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Times of Israel reported that Erekat, who serves as the Palestine Liberation Organization’s secretary general, made the comments in reaction to a recent speech Haley gave to the U.N. in which he claimed the ambassador called for the “overthrowing” of the Palestinian leadership.
“Nikki Haley needs to shut up and realize that the Palestinian leadership is not the problem,” the top diplomat, who in the past has led the Palestinian peace negotiations, said in an interview with the Al-Watan Voice news website. “Instead, the problem is the Israeli occupation and the policies it continues to pursue.”
He continued: “She called for overthrowing the democratically elected Palestinian president.” Abbas’ four-year term ended in 2009 and since then no elections have been held.
“This is the president [Abbas] who led the peace process and promoted the principle of the two-state solution,” Erekat charged. “Now this [U.S.] ambassador is accusing him of lacking courage, and is calling for replacing him.”
Only the Palestinian people have that right, he said. “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.”
Abbas, who was elected to a four-year term as president in 2005, recently began serving his fourteenth year. No subsequent elections have been held. A significant majority of Palestinians want Abbas to resign.
The Palestinian Authority’s 2017 budget revealed that payments to the families of “martyrs,” often terrorists who have killed Israelis, increased by 4% from 660 million shekels ($183 million) in 2016 to 687 million shekels ($197 million) in 2017.
“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.
Erekat further claimed that Haley’s remarks, and President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, amounts to attempts from the U.S. to stage a “coup” against the “Palestinian political system.” He said the goal of Israel and the U.S. was to “undermine the Palestinian national project.”
Despite his aggressive comments, he insisted that the Palestinian leadership doesn’t “seek a confrontation or a fight with the US administration.”
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