Former Palestinian Authority Chief Negotiator is in hot water with his boss, PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, after Erekat was caught on tape calling Abbas a “coward” who was afraid to take on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the West. The comments were videotaped at a closed event in Ramallah earlier this week, and have been circulating on Arabic-language video sites.
Erekat said that the comments were taken out of context.
In the video, Erekat is seen slamming Abbas for refusing to apply to more UN organizations, furthering the PA's efforts to enroll “Palestine” into as many international organizations as possible. Erekat said in the video that Abbas was mistaken if he thought he would be able to make a deal with Netanyahu. The only way to get Israel to concede to the PA's demands, he said, was to continue and enhance its campaign of applying to UN and international groups for Palestine membership.
Last April, PA chief Mahmoud Abbas started the process of applying to 15 different UN organizations. Israel slammed the PA's decision in April to seek membership as a country in the UN groups. The move was a violation of the Oslo Accords, Israeli officials said. "The PA has breached its obligations [in peace talks] by applying to the UN," Justice Minister Tzipi Livni stated. "If they want a state they need to understand that it will only be established on the negotiating table [with Israel]." The PA claimed that the move was in response to Israel's cancellation of a group of the release of 26 terrorists in April, a position that US Secretary of State John Kerry concurred with.
In the video, Erekat said he had discussed the matter numerous times with Abbas, but the latter said he could not do as his chief negotiator suggested, because he had promised the US that he would hold off on further unilateral actions. Erekat angrily slammed Abbas, saying that “Palestine is our homeland and what the Americans say is of no consequence. You have political cards and tactics – use them,” Erekat said of Abbas.
A report Thursday said that the Palestinian Authority was considering its next steps in applying for membership in UN organizations under the name “Palestine.” The PA has set up a committee to consider which groups to apply to, to be headed by PA Foreign Minister Riyadh al-Maliki. The report did not specify which groups the PA was considering applying to. This past week, “Palestine” was admitted to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Tensions have apparently been rising between Abbas and Erekat in recent days. According to tapes leaked earlier this week by the Awrak news agency, Erekat also slammed Abbas' "soft" policies in the new "unity" government with Hamas. In the tapes, Erekat makes a series of furious remarks over Abbas's decisions, saying that Abbas views the government as his "personal property." According to Erekat, Abbas rejected a PLO majority vote Wednesday night that would have seen the PA turn to the International Criminal Court over Israel's actions over the past several days.
Erekat claimed that Mahmoud Abbas' decision is a "mistake," stating that the vote would have labelled Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as a "war criminal" - preventing him from leaving Israel - and taken IDF commanders to trial for alleged "war crimes." Erekat further implied that Abbas's actions, in his words, cost the PA their sovereignty, as such drastic moves could see the Arab-occupied Judea and Samaria recognized as a state by the international community.
"Palestine is not just for the Palestinians or people who live there, but it belongs to all Muslim Arabs," he added. He also said that Israel is "deliberately humiliating" Abbas, and urged the PA to take a "more aggressive stand."