The chief Palestinian negotiator told Al-Jazeera that things will get “ugly” if a Mideast peace deal isn’t reached by April and warned that the Palestinian Authority — which already controls only half of the two Palestinian territories — could crumble.
Saeb Erakat told Al Jazeera’s Head to Head, in a show that will air Feb. 28, that the Palestinians will accept Israel’s right to exist but “not as a Jewish state,” and will maintain that they have a right to launch attacks against Israel without a deal.
“If you want me to take you into the scenario of after that, it’s going to be very ugly,” Erakat said of a spring without a peace deal. “That’s why I say to John Kerry…imagine Israel now just takes over everything in the West Bank. …Amidst the changing Middle East, all right? And mark my words: what’s happening in the Arab world is Arabs are democratizing and anybody who says Arabs are not ready for democracy is a racist, and this is the best thing that happened to me as a Palestinian. … It’s going to be painful, it’s going to be long, it’s going to be bloody. But Arabs are democratizing.”
Secretary of State John Kerry just added a stop in Paris to his current round of international travel to “meet with Palestinian Authority President Abbas to discuss the ongoing negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis” on Wednesday, the State Department said this morning.
Kerry drew criticism in recent weeks for his comments about the price Israel would pay if it didn’t acquiesce to the U.S. peace process. “You see, for Israel there’s an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up,” Kerry said. “People are very sensitive to it. There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?”
Erakat said he thinks the Palestinian Authority will fold if a peace deal wasn’t reached, but then admitted it was doomed anyway. “I’m not asking for the solution for the PA, the PA cannot be sustained in its current form…It’s not sustainable anymore,” he told Al Jazeera.
“I will never recognize a Jewish state,” Erakat said. “Because I have recognized the state of Israel’s right to exist in exchange for future recognition, in 1993 the name of Israel, state of Israel. Now, you know why they want me to recognize a Jewish state? I am the son of the Natufians, who built my hometown Jericho 2,000 years ago. I am the son of the Arab Kenonites, who were there 6,000 years before (who) came and built my hometown Jericho. What the Israeli’s want me to do when I recognize Israel as a Jewish state, they want me to change my narrative, my history, my religion.”
“Number one…I cannot accept Israel as a Jewish state,” the chief negotiator said. “Number two: I cannot accept any document without East Jerusalem being the capital of Palestine.”
As far as attacks on Israel, Erakat said, “As long as there is occupation, there is resistance.”