Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian Authority negotiator whom Israeli leftists often depict as a moderate voice, recently sent a letter of praise to the terrorist who planned the assassination of Israeli minister Rechavam Ze'evi in 2001.
Channel 10 television reported Sunday that Erekat warmly addressed Sa'adat, the head of the PFLP terror group who is serving a 30 year sentence in an Israeli jail, as “my dear brother,” adding that he was writing him “in order to express the strongest emotions of solidarity and brotherhood.”
“The occupation is carrying out a policy of defeat and humiliation towards you [prisoners] by canceling your accomplishments,” Erekat went on. “You exhibited steadfast resistance that has become the stuff of legend, during which many martyrs fell.”
"Our beloved one, the darkness of the jail will come to an end. We believe that we will meet soon and celebrate the victory and the liberation and freedom, for all prisoners.”
Erekat responded to the Channel 10 report by saying: “My letter is not political but humanitarian. I did not praise his deeds. Just as people in Israel care about Jonathan Pollard, we care for our prisoners. The Israeli should keep their noses out of matters that are not their business.”
In September, Erekat distanced himself from an ad campaign that was being conducted by the Geneva Initiative, a leftist Israeli group. The campaign portrayed Erekat as reaching out to Israelis, addressing them by saying “Hello Israel. I know you are disappointed in us. I know we failed to arrive at an agreement during 19 years of talks.” The ad attempts to portray Erekat's words as a sort of apology for PA intransigence.
But in a statement, Erekat said that his intention was completely different than that portrayed by the organizers of the Geneva Initiative sponsors. What he meant, the statement said, was that even though the PA has been blamed for failing to make a deal, it was still possible to arrive at a resolution of the conflict. “Unfortunately, some people misinterpreted my words as an apology to Israelis in the name of the Palestinians, and this is actually the opposite of what I intended and what I believe.” The PA Arabs were the ones suffering at the hands of Israel, he said, and if anyone needed to apologize, it was Israel, he added.