Erekat: Netanyahu won't take my calls

Saeb Erekat recounts his struggle to arrange a simple meeting with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

    We'll be blogging throughout the day about the first installment of The Palestine Papers, Al Jazeera's months-long investigation into thousands of confidential documents from Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

    (Last night's coverage, if you missed it, dealt with the PA's offer to concede almost all illegal settlements in East Jeursalem, and chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat's offer to be "creative" about the legal status of the Haram al-Sharif.)

    Those were the big stories. But there are other notable moments within these leaked documents as well, offhand exchanges that often tell a story about the real balance of power within the negotiations.

    On January 15, 2010, for example, Saeb Erekat tells Obama adviser David Hale about his struggles to arrange a meeting with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu:

    Erekat: I told the Israelis from the beginning: let?s not waste time, let?s not wait. Let?s see what you have to offer and see what we can work with. I called Uzi Arad before Passover and arranged a call from AM [Abu Mazen] to Netanyahu ?to congratulate him. I got nothing -? come Ramadan, the feast, nothing. I called them to meet from the beginning, they kept canceling.

    This is Netanyahu: Recently six presidential guards in civilian clothes on their way from Bethlehem to Ramallah were stopped by Israeli soldiers and stripped to humiliate them in front of their people. Nablus was to humiliate Fayyad and AM. This is Netanyahu... I can?'t compete with him..."

    Erekat's language seems alternately insulted and desperate. He goes on to tell Hale about the concessions he's already made to the Israeli side: "The biggest Yerushalaim in Jewish history, symbolic number of refugees return, demilitarized state... what more can I give?"


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