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Erekat, Israel and the international agenda

Following his usual hyperbole accusing the international community of aiding Israel’s impunity, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat displayed the PA’s synchronisation with the prevailing international agenda by participating in a series of secret meetings with Israeli law makers. The most recent was reported to have taken place in Amman, Jordan, and has since been confirmed by Tayseer Khalid from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

According to Ma’an, Khalid stated: “Sadly the PLO Executive Committee and Palestinian leaders know about such meetings only from the Israeli media.” He asserted that the function of such talks ultimately reduces international pressure on Netanyahu’s government.

During a meeting with the EU Special Representative for the Peace Process Fernando Gentilini and other European diplomats, Erekat insisted the international community increase its efforts to stop Israel’s settlement expansion, with reference to the demolition order concerning the village of Susiya. Erekat also called upon the EU to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law.

However, beneath the façade exhibited by Erekat, the dynamics of seeking legitimacy from the oppression remains evident. Statements condemning Israel are a constant feature of Erekat’s rhetoric, yet his role remains grounded in diplomatic concessions to the Israeli government, at the expense of increasing Palestine’s fragmentation.

The meeting in Amman between Erekat and Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom was described as a “trust-building” strategy by the Times of Israel. Earlier this month, Shalom called for a renewal of negotiations to which it seems the PA is subjugating itself once again by participating in talks that would lead to another extended timeframe of “negotiations without preconditions” – Israel’s euphemism for dominance, exploitation and appropriation.

Information regarding the meeting has been scarce – according to the Times of Israel the aim was “to calm tensions between the two sides, which have spiralled in the past week.” However, the feeble premise given to justify the latest meeting in Amman does not extend to previous secret talks held in Arab and European countries.

The agenda for the meetings is also reported to have been set by Shalom, further emphasising the PA’s role in following Israeli and international dictates, while making use of its international platform to continue masquerading as an allegedly legitimate representation of the Palestinian people, all the while ensuring further erosion of their dignity and rights.

Haaretz also reported approval of the talks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as knowledge and involvement of Jordanian and European officials.

Indulging in speculation regarding the actual motive of the talks may be considered premature. However, it is unlikely that the foundations for such decisions have veered away from the two-state compromise that the international community, as well as Netanyahu and Abbas, continue to evoke in order to ensure Palestine’s enforced disintegration. Shalom is also responsible for renewing further negotiations, hence the alleged calming of tensions is likely to provide nothing more than a perfunctory utterance designated to fill the void which the unexplained context of the meetings has obviously provoked.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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