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Erekat denies claims that Palestinian, US officials colluded on UNSC resolution

Dec. 28, 2016 7:04 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 28, 2016 7:46 P.M.)
Saeb Erekat
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat denied claims made in a report leaked on Wednesday that the US and Palestine colluded in the days leading up to the United Nation’s approval of a resolution condemning Israel for its illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

The resolution passed with unanimous approval from the 14 council members, while the US abstained from voting, sparking outrage from the Israeli government that the Obama administration did not use its veto power to block the resolution, as the US has on previous anti-settlement resolutions at the UNSC.

A report leaked by an Egyptian news site and widely reported in Israeli media claimed to show minutes of a meeting between Erekat and US Secretary of State John Kerry two weeks ago, when they allegedly discussed plans for the US not to veto the resolution, seeming to confirm allegations from Israeli leadership that the US and Palestine had conspired against Israel’s back.

However, Erekat said in a statement later on Wednesday that the minutes were fabricated and intended only to serve interest of people close to Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Austrian financier Martin Schlaff.

The PLO official went on to say that even if Palestinian officials managed to convince the US administration to abstain from vetoing the resolution, "that would not harm us, but would rather be a triumph for Palestine and its people."

However, "we don't boast false heroic achievements that haven't been achieved."

“The leaked minutes are lies and half-truths” Erekat said. “They were leaked to serve Netanyahu and Lieberman’s wars against the international community who championed international law and considered all of Israel’s dictates and settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem, illegal and a gross violation of international law.”

Erekat did confirm that the names of Palestinian officials mentioned in "fabricated document" were in fact the accurate identities of the members of Palestinian delegation that met with Kerry.

In the wake of the resolution’s passage, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel "would not abide by the terms" of the "shameful anti-Israel resolution."

Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz said that the United States had “abandoned” Israel by abstaining from the vote, adding that “the heart aches that after eight years of friendship… and cooperation with Obama, this is his final chord" in the departing Obama administration.

Ynet quoted an anonymous Israeli official as saying that Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry "secretly cooked up” the “extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel's back. They called the move “shameful" and "an abandonment of Israel which breaks decades of US policy of protecting Israel at the UN.

"Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon for his part insisted that "Neither the Security Council nor UNESCO will rewrite history and to sever the link between the people of Israel and the land of Israel,” warning that “Efforts to attack Israel” would not help the peace process.

Critics have meanwhile pointed out that dozens of past UN resolutions condemning Israeli policies in the occupied territory have not been supported by the political will necessary to enforce such measures.

Many expressed worry that the Friday’s resolution would also be merely symbolic -- noting in particular the resolution did not authorize any form of sanctions to compel Israel to respect international law.

Despite the US government under Barack Obama having routinely condemned Israel’s settlement expansions, US officials have yet to take any concrete actions to end settlement building and instead inadvertently encouraged the enterprise through consistent inaction over Israel’s violation of international law and continued support of the Israeli government through inflated military aid packages.

Amnesty International said of the resolution that the UNSC “must now ensure this resolution is respected. Indeed, it should go further and demand that the state of Israel not only fulfil its legal obligation to halt settlement-building, but also dismantle its settlements and relocate its settlers outside Occupied Palestinian Territories. This is the only way to a just and durable peace.”
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