Palestinian peace negotiator tells US ambassador to UN Nikki Haley to 'shut up' over Abbas criticism

Saeb Erekat accuses US ambassador of calling 'for overthrowing the democratically elected Palestinian president'

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 06 February 2018 14:05
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Nikki Haley: 'President Abbas declared the landmark Oslo Peace Accords dead'

A Palestinian peace negotiator has told the US envoy to the United Nations to "shut up" with her criticism of Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, attacked Nikki Haley for her criticism of Mr Abbas' recent speech, which called Israel a "colonial project that has nothing to do with Jews" and attacked Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as its capital.

Mr Erekat said Ms Haley had "called for overthrowing the democratically elected Palestinian president".

“This is the president who led the peace process and promoted the principle of the two-state solution,” he said in an interview with Palestinian news website Al-Watan Voice, according to the Times of Israel. “Now this [US] ambassador is accusing him of lacking courage, and is calling for replacing him.”

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His remarks referred to a speech Ms Haley gave to the UN in January, in which she said: "In his speech, 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."

She added: "I ask here today, where is the Palestinian King Hussein? Where is the Palestinian Anwar Sadat? If President Abbas demonstrates he can be that type of leader, we would welcome it. His recent actions demonstrate the total opposite.

"The United States remains deeply committed to helping the Israelis and the Palestinians reach a historic peace agreement that brings a better future to both peoples, just as we did successfully with the Egyptians and the Jordanians. But we will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what is needed to achieve peace. To get historic results, we need courageous leaders. History has provided such leaders in the past. For the sake of the Palestinian and Israeli people, we pray it does so again."

Citing the speech, Mr Erekat said: “Nikki Haley needs to shut up and realise that the Palestinian leadership is not the problem.

"Instead, the problem is the Israeli occupation and the policies it continues to pursue. I’m not saying that we don’t make mistakes; every society and every government makes mistakes.”

He said the US and Israel were hoping to "undermine the Palestinian national project."

“US and Israeli officials are saying that any Palestinian leader who insists on East Jerusalem becoming the capital of Palestine and is committed to the right of return, in accordance with United Nations resolution 194, should be removed from power and replaced,” he said.

He added: “We will take Trump’s decision [recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel] to the International Court of Justice and we will seek membership in more international agencies."

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