Israel’s regime is “racist” and should be punished, the man who is in charge of peace talks on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) said Tuesday.
Speaking to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency, the PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat referred to the heated argument he had with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s negotiator with the PA, during the Munich Security Conference this past weekend.
Erekat said that the reason for the argument was Livni’s insistence that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state as part of a future agreement.
“I told her in front of the whole world that we will not change our history, our religion or our civilization,” he said. “We are the lawful sons of Palestine; we will not accept Israel as a Jewish state”.
Erekat continued, “I informed Livni that Israel must apologize for Palestinian refugees, because they weren’t displaced by a volcano or a tsunami, but by the establishment of Israel. They should apologize to them and solve their issue on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative and international decisions.”
“Livni accused us of not wanting peace, and I told her that Israel is racist against Palestinians in ways that did not happen in South Africa. The world should rise against this racist regime, hold it accountable and punish it,” he charged.
During the same argument, Erekat also claimed that the Israeli demand that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state is unacceptable because he represents the Biblical Canaanites who “lived in the region 5,500 years before Joshua Bin-Nun came and burned my hometown Jericho.”
This is not the first time that Erekat has slammed Israel as racist. Last May, he accused Israel of applying a policy of apartheid in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.
"Today in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem ... I can sum up the situation with one word - apartheid. Worse than that which existed in South Africa," Erekat claimed at the time, adding, "Today Israel justifies its apartheid by the term security."
PA leaders have long accused Israel of “apartheid” policies, even though they themselves have clarified that if a Palestinian state is ever established, no Israeli citizen will be allowed to set foot inside.
Just last week, Erekat rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s idea that if a Palestinian state is established in Judea and Samaria, Jews who wish to remain in that state should be allowed to do so.
"Anyone who says he wants to keep settlers in the Palestinian state is actually saying that he doesn't want a Palestinian state," he declared, adding, "No settler will be allowed to stay in the Palestinian state, not even a single one, because settlements are illegal and the presence of the settlers on the occupied lands is illegal.”
Erekat also told Ma’an that a recent meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made no progress and a date for a framework agreement was yet to be set.
Erekat said he held several meeting with Kerry in Washington, and the two discussed ways to push the peace process forward but there was nothing official to report so far.
Kerry did not set a date for his next visit to the region or a date to present the framework agreement.
“Until this moment and after the Quartet meeting which was held on Saturday in Munich, Kerry did not present anything written or official,” Erekat said.
He added that the PA awaited an official proposal from the U.S., which he claimed was postponed due to “deep issues with Israel which rejects the two-state solution and international law.”
He accused Israel of having announced more than 10,000 “settler homes”, having demolished over 219 PA homes and killed over 40 Palestinian Arabs since restarting peace talks last July.
Erekat said that Israel should be held accountable by the international community, and not just condemned and denounced.
The comments come just one day after Erekat slammed the Israeli government and said that the PA won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state because Israel has not “recognized the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders."