Then, in [East] Jerusalem two nights later

Following the clashes shpwn in the video in our previous post, Israeli forces made a number of arrests in East Jerusalem during the post-midnight to 5 am early hours on 29 May, , as Ma’an News Agency reported here

In the Old City:

“Twelve Palestinian teenagers and young men were arrested from their homes in the al-Sadiyeh neighborhood of Jerusalem’s Old City. Police broke the doors of several homes in the raids and stayed in the area until 5 a.m.   A Ma’an correspondent said police arrested 13-year-old Issa Mteb, Aboud al-Jabari, 16, Muhanad Eid, 17, Abdullah Abu Diab 18, Hamoudeh al-Baytouni, 19, Mohammad Halawani, 19, Alaa Makieh,19, Maher al-Baytouni, 20, Mahmud al-Khatib, 20, Mohammad Ghousheh, 21, Anas Afghani, 21, and Mahmud al-Tiryaki.   Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said some arrests were made in the last 24 hours but could not immediately say how many”.

In Eizariya [Bethany] + in Abu Dis:
Arrests were also made by Israeli forces in the early hours of the 29th in Eizariya and in Abu Dis, two suburbs of East Jerusalem which are now located on the “other” or [West Bank] side of The Wall being constructed [since 2003] by the Israeli Army to separate Palestinians from Israelis…

Continue reading Then, in [East] Jerusalem two nights later

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem [last night]

“The absence of peace is, in fact, perpetual war, even if it’s low intensity. Are we ready? Do we want to live with a permanent intifada?” — John Kerry on 26 May 2013

Not long after John Kerry said these words at the World Economic Forum meeting on the Jordanian coast of the Dead Sea, this video was taken of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is very visually-striking photography, beautiful –with the night lighting and the narrow alleys between stone walls, double-story green arches, and the clear plexiglass shields of the soldiers:

It seems to have been filmed and uploaded to Youtube here by Abdelafo Ba, and it was Tweeted this morning by @PalestinianVideo:  Palestine Video @PalestineVideo — #Palestine #Video Arrests and confrontation in occupied #Jerusalem  #Palestinian


Kerry says Tony Blair has 300 businessmen planning to raise $4 billion for the West Bank Palestinians

After the build-up that led to the Swiss-based World Economic Forum’s session at Jordan’s Dead Sea on Saturday and Sunday — it was hard to understand why, at least during the speeches of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Abbas waived a copy of the Arab Peace Initiative in the air and asked Israelis to actually read it. It was not clear why. [Later it did become clear that the reason was the incentive it gives to Israel for withdrawing from the West Bank: recognition + full normal relations including trade with the entire Arab and Muslim world.]

Peres spoke about being born in an age of agriculture and living in a world of technology, where all good things could happen to the region if only there were peace. It was not clear why. [Peres contradicted the Israeli government’s current disapproval and said the Arab Peace Initiative was a strategic opportunity…] It was not clear why.  But, his reasons seem to be the same as Abbas’.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry started to talk, and seemed to have not much new to say; he thanked a lot of people and spoke about the Arab Spring. It was not clear why.

Then, Kerry said, he wanted to give ” I want to say a special thank you to the Quartet Representative, former Prime Minister Tony Blair… he is working diligently on a special project that I want to share with you in a few minutes”…

It was all downhill from there…

US State Dept photo - Kerry greets Blair at WEF Dead Sea, Jordan meeting 26 May 2013
US State Dept photo - Kerry greets Blair at WEF Dead Sea, Jordan meeting 26 May 2013

Photo from the US State Dept “Amman and Dead Sea, Jordan” Flikr set, here.

Kerry said: “No one doubts that this is a very complex moment in international relations. But still, I don’t think that there is any secret about the conditions that are necessary for peace and stability to succeed. Those are: good governance, security, and economic opportunity. And so the real question for all of us, for President Abbas, President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, all of us, is a very simple one: Will we, despite the historic hurdles, have the courage to make the choices that we know we need to make in order to break the stalemate and provide a change of life for people in this region?”

Then, Kerry announced the creation of an investment fund to be financed with a possible $4 billion dollars to spur private-sector development in the West Bank [though he did also mention  4 million people, though it was not clear who: if Kerry meant Palestinians only, that would include the West Bank population of some 2.8 million  and Gaza with some 1.5 million…]

It was clear that Kerry’s remarks were the real reason all those people were there, in the meeting at the Dead Sea in Jordan on a Sunday afternoon…and Abbas and Peres were just there to prop up the show.

Kerry then explained the still-vague Blair super-project:
“I have asked Quartet Representative Tony Blair and many business leaders to join together. And Prime Minister Blair is shaping what I believe could be a groundbreaking plan to develop a healthy, sustainable, private-sector-led Palestinian economy that will transform the fortunes of a future Palestinian state, but also, significantly, transform the possibilities for Jordan and for Israel.

It is a plan for the Palestinian economy that is bigger, bolder and more ambitious than anything proposed since Oslo, more than 20 years ago now. And this, the intention of this plan, of all of its participants, is not to make it merely transformative, but frankly, to make it enormously powerful in the shaping of the possibilities of the future so that it is more transformative than incremental and different from anything that we have seen before.

To achieve that, these leaders have brought together a group of business experts, who have donated their time, who have come from around the world over the course of the last six weeks to make this project real and tangible and formidable – as we say, shovel-ready. They have come from all over the world because they believe in peace, and because they believe prosperity is both a promise and a product of peace.

This group includes leaders of some of the world’s largest corporations, I’m pleased to say. It includes renowned investors and some of the most brilliant business analysts out there – and some of the most committed. One of these senior business leaders actually just celebrated his 69th birthday in Jerusalem at the Colony Hotel after spending a 14-hour day in the West Bank trying to figure it out.

When others ask them, all of them, why they’re here, doing this on their own time, the unanimous answer is: ‘Because we want a better future for both Israeli children and Palestinian children’.

Their plan begins with encouraging local, regional and international business leaders to, and to encourage government leaders in various parts of the world. I raised this issue with the President of China, with the Prime Minister of Japan, with all of our European leaders, and everywhere – with the Brazilian Foreign Minister a few days ago, with the New Zealand Foreign Minister. All of them have on the tip of their tongues the idea that we can make peace in the Middle East and need to, and all of them are committed to be part of this effort in order to change life on the ground.

The fact is that we are looking to mobilize some $4 billion of investment. And this team of experts – private citizens, donating their time – are here right now. They’re analyzing the opportunities in tourism, construction, light manufacturing, building materials, energy, agriculture, and information and communications technology.

This group will make recommendations to the Palestinians. They’re not going to decide anything. The Palestinians will decide that in their normal course of governance. But they will analyze and make recommendations on a set of choices that can dramatically lift the economy.

The preliminary results already reported to me by Prime Minister Blair and by the folks working with him are stunning: These experts believe that we can increase the Palestinian GDP by as much as 50 percent over three years. Their most optimistic estimates foresee enough new jobs to cut unemployment by nearly two-thirds – to 8 percent, down from 21 percent today – and to increase the median annual wage along with it, by as much as 40 percent.

Continue reading Kerry says Tony Blair has 300 businessmen planning to raise $4 billion for the West Bank Palestinians

Salam Fayyad, still in office, saying that he wouldn't be quitting, if he thought Kerry's efforts had a chance

The former New York Times correspondent in Jerusalem Ethan Bronner, back for a visit [and presumably a friend of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad] reported today here that Fayyad “says Palestinian leaders must acknowledge their failure to deliver on their promises and call new elections. That is not happening. He tells friends that if he believed Mr. Kerry’s efforts had any chance of yielding results, he would not be quitting“…

Olmert's 2008 proposal on Palestinian refugees – to take a total of 5,000 over 5 years

Of course Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could not have signed on to this stingy proposal when it was tabled by Israel’s then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in their last meeting on 16 September 2008.

Not only is the number of Palestinian refugees that Israel would take back “inside the Green Line” less than Ehud Barak’s previous suggestion [to take back tens of thousands a year, as a “humanitarian gesture”] at Camp David talks in late July 2000, but this is also supposed to extinguish any further mention of the “Right of Return”. At the same Camp David discussions, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said he wanted to solve the problem of some 450,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon first — an idea that the Israeli delegation, who had just completed their unilateral May 2000 withdrawal for almost all of the “security zone” they had created during their 25-year occupation of South Lebanon, did not dismiss out of hand.

It is true that the Barak team said that most of the Palestinian refugees who would want to return would have to do so to the future Palestinian state. [Then, there was some suggestion that Israel would want to have a say in who and how many returned, even to the Palestinian territory = West Bank or Gaza…]

In any case, here is the relaxed way Olmert himself recently described it to Israeli journalist Avi Issacharoff in a recent interview which was reported yesterday, here:

“I agreed to absorb into Israel up to 5,000 Palestinian refugees over five years. Why 5,000? It may sound kind of strange, but during the talks between Rice and Abu Mazen he said that he needed the settlement of tens of thousands of refugees inside Israel, and that Ehud Barak had been ready to take in 100,000. She told him that he could get the same number of people as could fit inside the Mukataa at any given moment. We estimated that number to be about 5,000. So that’s how I came up with the number. I’m telling you, if Abu Mazen had been ready to sign on an agreement that would require our absorbing 10,000-15,000 over five years, I would have agreed. It was after all about the number of African illegals who were sneaking across the border every year back then. But all of it, of course, on condition that they would sign an agreement for an ‘end of conflict and end of demands,’ so there would no longer be a ‘right of return.’”

Olmert added that “he explained to Abbas during their talks that Israel could not agree to any solution to the refugee problem according to UN Resolution 194, which in his view had created the Palestinian’s ‘claim of return’ myth. ‘But I said to him, first we will set up a special fund for compensation to the refugees, second, we will accept the road map, which includes in it the Arab peace initiative which also refers to resolution 194 with respect to a solution for the refugee problem. That way you too can claim that Israel accepted the basis of the Arab peace initiative including Resolution 194’.”

And, what did Mahmoud Abbas say?

From Olmert’s account, as reported by Issacharoff, you could get the impression Abbas was only prepared to engage immediately on the Land Swaps proposal… and even on that he hesitated [and cancelled the follow-up meeting of map expert’s scheduled for the next day].

Continue reading Olmert's 2008 proposal on Palestinian refugees – to take a total of 5,000 over 5 years

Can Mahmoud Abbas negotiate on equal basis with less fluent English?

The language in which Israelis and Palestinians negotiate is: English. The original language of documents signed during the Oslo process is: English.

This brings up a delicate but extremely important point: Can Mahmoud Abbas negotiate on an equal basis with less fluent English than the Israeli Prime Minister?

Israeli journalist Avi Issacharoff touched on the point in his report today, published here, of his interview with Israeli former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who presented a map and detailed negotiating points to Abbas in their last meeting on 16 September 2008.

The question is worth exploring.  Issacharoff reported that the first meeting between Olmert and Abbas on 23 December 2006 “launched a model for talks between the two leaders: every so often, usually every two week, the two would meet and after some opening remarks and some food, they would go off to the side and speak one-on-one about the issues regarding final status”.

Was Abbas able to navigate the subtleties?  Did his imperfect control of the English language have anything to do with his reported lack of response?  The last discussion between Olmert and Abbas was inconclusive — yet Abbas wants any new talks to start from that point.

Mahmoud Abbas has said many times that he wants direct negotiations to resume where they left off on that day.

Israel’s current Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu does not agree. He explains this by saying he wants negotiations without preconditions. But, Netanyahu does not agree with the major concessions that Olmert offered Abbas in September 2008 — (1) that the hugely important mosque esplanade in the Old City of East Jerusalem would be under no country’s sovereignty, and would instead be administered by a five-nation group of countries; and (2) that Israel was prepared to make significant Land Swaps with Palestinians, including giving up the Jordan Valley that Netanyahu seems determined to retain on a long-term basis as an essential security assurance. [Netanyahu is also determined to obtain Palestinian recognition of Israel as “a Jewish State” or “the state of the Jewish people”, which is a point that was also raised by Olmert at the start of the Annapolis process of negotiations in November 2007.]

The substantive part of the negotiations began, apparently, four months earlier — in May 2008.

Olmert told Issacharoff that Condoleeza Rice “was concerned about the differences in our English – since mine was much more fluent then Abu Mazen’s…”

It’s interesting that Rice was so concerned. The disparity in power between the two parties — one of whom is occupied by the other — and who have engaged in direct negotiations over the self-determination of one of them, could be considered an argument that might invalidate the legality of any agreement reached. And the imbalance in negotiating conditions is exacerbated by an imbalance in linguistic capability.

By Olmert’s account [reported today by Issacharoff], he said that even before the Annapolis process — in fact, on 23 December 2006 — Abbas asked for Israel to free 500-600 prisoners. “I said, ‘Why don’t you ask for more?’…”

In this 23 December 2006 meeting at Olmert’s house, Abbas “asked for the taxes owed the PA – 50 million [shekels]”… And Olmert said he told Abbas: “not a chance…you will get 100 million, it’s Palestinian money. The days when you have to ask for what is rightfully yours are over…”

But, when Condoleeza Rice gave Abbas Olmert’s proposal “that he appoint a representative on whom he relied completely who would formulate the peace agreement. I had already turned to someone like that; someone with international standing. But Abbas said he preferred that the talks be carried out directly with him. She was concerned about the differences in our English – since mine was much more fluent then Abu Mazen’s – but I promised her that I wouldn’t take advantage of it, and she believed me”

But, by Olmert’s account, he actually had to coach Mahmoud Abbas: “When we talked about the subject of borders, Abbas reiterated that he wanted land swaps of 1.9% only, or the 1967 borders. I told him that the 1967 borders did not include a passage between Gaza and the West Bank, and if they want to make that connection and the necessary adjustments of the map, then it should be done in a smart way”…

According to Olmert, “The two men met 36 times, mostly in Jerusalem + once in Jericho”.

At the end of this series, it was Sa’eb Erekat who cancelled the post-map-presentation follow-up session scheduled for 17 September 2008, Olmert said, and their excuse was that they’d “forgotten that Abbas had to go to Amman”.

Olmert told Avi Issacharoff that he’s “still waiting” since September 2008 for a call from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, just as just as Yasser Abed Rabbo told Avi Issacharoff [for an article published in mid-May in the Times of Israel] that he’s been waiting for a call from Netanyahu since February 16 2011..

Our reports on Avi Issacharoff’s recent reports are on our sister blog, Palestine-Mandate, here: [Olmert-Abbas 2006-2008] here … and [Yasser Abed-Rabbo-Netanyahu 2011] here.

Kerry eats a shawarma sandwich in Ramallah today

Here is the photo just Tweeted by the U.S. State Department —

@StateDept — (Photo) #SecKerry stopped by a shawarma shop for lunch in #Ramallah today.

This is Samer Restaurant on Nablus Street in Ramallah, not very far from the Muqata’a — and that is Samer himself, opposite Kerry.

US State Dept photo of John Kerry enjoying a shawarma sandwich in Ramallah today
This photo is posted on the US State Department’s Ramallah May 23, 2013 Flickr set, here.

The food here is simple, but healthy [shawarma, bits of grilled meat pressed together with a lot of garlic, is very like Greek souvlaki… We now know from the Passport Blog investigation here that it was turkey (chicken) shawarma that Kerry had.]

Full disclosure: I bought a grilled chicken last night from Samer!

But, Kerry’s adventure in a small block of Ramallah not far from the center was breath-taking, when you see the security measures that the Palestinian President takes in town [much less the U.S. Consulate’s normal precautions]…

And, as one Palestinian official in Ramallah told me a few hours later, it was “very smart!”

He treated a few Palestinian small businessmen as if they were…well, normal people, people that anyone could have a  pleasant interaction with on a sunny spring afternoon, not people who are scary or who should be locked up behind checkpoints.

It’s amazing that the security detail allowed this highly unusual mingling with the people — while a small anti-Kerry demonstration took place a few streets away…

There was a comment on this exact point on Twitter:
Palestine Video ?@PalestineVideoPA news tried to cover protests against Kerry’s visit with news of a Shawerma stunt  #Palestine #Video #Palestinian

The State Department photo appears in their Ramallah May 23, 2013 set on Flickr here.

It seems there were a lot of photographers snapping  pictures of this photo-op — here’s another view via @MarquardtA on Twitter:

Kerry eating a shawarma sandwich at Samer Restaurant in Ramallah
Kerry eating a shawarma sandwich at Samer Restaurant in Ramallah


Kerry converses with Samer of Samer Restaurant, Ramallah
Kerry converses with Samer of Samer Restaurant, Ramallah

In his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem earlier today, Kerry said:
“Let me just say to everybody I know this region well enough to know that there is skepticism. In some corridors, there’s cynicism. And there are reasons for it. There have been bitter years of disappointment. It is our hope that by being methodical, careful, patient – but detailed and tenacious – that we can lay out a path ahead that could conceivably surprise people, but certainly exhaust the possibilities of peace. That’s what we’re working towards…”

Well, this is a surprise.

UPDATE: A Ramallah taxi driver told me he noticed the whole street was closed with lots of security + presidential guards, so he quickly turned to an alternative route. The whole visit lasted mayhbe 15-20 minutes, he said.

Kerry also visited the bicycle-and-other-things shop across the street from Samer Restaurant – photo from the US Consul General in Jerusalem, here:

Kerry talks with people in the bicycle-and-other-things shop near Samer Restaurant
Kerry talks with people in the bicycle-and-other-things shop near Samer Restaurant

UPDATE: Ma’an News Agency later reported here that “Kerry’s tour [n.b. – he also visited Samer Sweet Shop across the street] followed a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas in the latter’s office in Ramallah.  Several officials attended the talks including PLO secretary Yasser Abed Rabbo, Executive Committee member Saeb Erekat, Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeina and a presidential adviereser on economic affairs. Abbas told Kerry the Palestinians were serious about resuming peace negotiations to save the two-state solution. The president also addressed ongoing settlement expansion and settler assaults against the Palestinian people in the West Bank”.

Salam Fayyad is still Caretaker Prime Minister — and he says he supports Freedom of the Press

Almost one month to the day after his resignation, Salam Fayyad remains the Palestinian Prime Minister — now in a “Caretaker” capacity at the request of President Mahmoud Abbas, until he finds a replacement… or, until things change [“and he can reappoint Fayyad”, as one commentor recently noted].

Neither Salam Fayyad nor “Fayyad’s office” have recanted their statement denying that he has given any press interviews or statements since his resignation on 13 April.  They just think that they can sweep everything under the carpet, and their misleading statement will all fade away and be forgotten — which is not the behavior of a responsible adult. [See our previous posts.]

Here’s how Haaretz interpreted the facts [in a Tweet on May 5 — in other words, Fayyad did, of course, speak with Roger Cohen of the New York Times]:
@haaretzcom – In interview with NYTimes, #Palestinian PM Fayyad foresees fall of Fatah, but denies criticizing it =

This Haaretz report said that, according to the statement given to Ma’an News Agency by “Fayyad’s office”, “Fayyad’s office asked Cohen not to publish the story as an interview with the prime minister”…

Meanwhile, Ma’an News Agency reported today here, Fayyad has made a public appearance and public statement in support of Freedom of the Press.

The Ma’an report quotes Fayyad as saying:
“When it comes to freedom of the press, there is nothing called excessive freedom…What we aim to do is to make the freedom of speech a part of our daily life, unrestrained by laws”.

According to Ma’an, Fayyad also remarked that the protection of the freedom of expression is one of the most important priorities of the Palestinian Authority’s work and that Freedom of the press must be an essential component of the Palestinian state…

And, will Fayyad retract the statement issued by his "office"?

Will Salam Fayyad correct the wrong-headed efforts of his “office” to save him from Fatah’s wrath in Ramallah by making the patently false denial that he’s given any statements or interviews to the media since his resignation on 13 April?

Will he stand up and do the right thing, here?

Will he admit that he did give an interview to New York Times columnist Roger Cohen? [And, for that matter, also to Daoud Kuttab…}

Salam Fayyad participates in Greek Orthodox + Eastern Easter celebrations in Ramallah - 5 May 2013
Salam Fayyad participated with Church officials in Greek Orthodox + Eastern Easter celebrations in Ramallah - 5 May 2013

Salam Fayyad is not perfect, but he is better than this — no matter what pressure he’s under, he’s not a person I would have thought would attack a journalist, or deny that he did what he did, or said what he said.

Nobody I’ve spoken to believes the denials, anyway…

The Palestinian Authority people in Ramallah can’t take criticism, though they should try to learn …

In what was billed as his last weekly radio address, Fayyad said “I feel a deep sense of gratitude to all those who supported us and stood by us. I am also deeply grateful for each opinion or position that criticized the path of our work and tried to correct it for the benefit of our people and their national cause”.

That is good.

Then, he went on to say: “As for those who maintained preconceived positions throughout our journey or made it their business to launch attacks and spread prejudices, I tell them: may God forgive you”…

Maybe Fayyad, like others here, have a hard time telling the difference, and see all criticism as attacks and spreading of prejudices.

Fayyad should rise up and retract the statement issued by his “office”…

Meanwhile, Roger Cohen wrote in a Tweet today [probably overly defensive, as he was addressing someone known to be a critic of Fayyad] that “#Fayyad is serious, tough and consequential”…

If so, Fayyad should retract the nonsense statement issued by his “office”.

"Fayyad's Office" denies he gave any interviews or statements since his "resignation"

This story just does not get better.

Last night, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, Salam Fayyad’s “office” issued a statement saying that  “The statements in the [New York Times OpEd piece by Roger Cohen] are…certainly not the words of Fayyad…”

The statement from “Fayyad’s office”, according to WAFA, said that Fayyad “did not make any statements or conduct interviews for the NYTimes or any other newspaper or agency since his resignation”…

We have reported on some of those interviews in earlier posts here and here.

WAFA added, citing the statement from “Fayyad’s office” that: “The statements in the article are just journalist Roger Cohen’s personal impressions”.

The Times of Israel reported here that “In an email correspondence with The Times of Israel, Cohen reacted to Fayyad’s office’s claim by saying he interviewed Fayyad and declined further comment”.

UPDATE: Roger Cohen said just a bit more on Monday, via Twitter: Roger Cohen @NYTimesCohen ” #Fayyad office denies interview happened at all. Would make denial quotes redundant. It happened.  He spoke out”.

In another Tweet, Cohen wrote: “He said what he said”

Fayyad’s admission of failure [to Cohen] is certainly not the first time he’s said that.

The eloquence of his reported critique of the leadership was distinctive. According to Cohen, Fayyad said: “It is incredible that the fate of the Palestinian people has been in the hands of leaders so entirely casual, so guided by spur-of-the-moment decisions, without seriousness. We don’t strategize, we cut deals in a tactical way and we hold ourselves hostage to our own rhetoric”. If this was concocted, as the statement reported by WAFA say, perhaps Fayyad should consider engaging someone like Roger Cohen as a regular speechwriter.

What was shocking in the NYTimes article by Roger Cohen was Fayyad’s open attack on Fatah, the largest Palestinian political movement which also controls the Palestine Liberation Organization [recognized at the UN for decades as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.

Fatah has been critical of Fayyad for years, and called a number of times for Fayyad to go or be replaced — with the notable exception of a moment last year when reconciliation talks with Hamas had progressed to the point where there was talk of the formation of a pre-election government composed of non-affiliated technocrats, and Hamas insisted Fayyad must go.  Then, and only then, did Fatah issue a statement of support for Fayyad, which stressed his importance in bringing in donor money and political support…

It is interesting that the surprising denial, attributed to a statement from “Fayyad’s office”, was put out by WAFA [the official Palestinian news agency, which is not controlled by Fayyad] rather than by the Fayyad-appointed Government Media Center, which seems to have said nothing …

Fayyad clearly has met + given interviews, since his “resignation”, to Daoud Kuttab [who Tweeted a photo, which we posted earlier] + to Roger Cohen [on Twitter @NYTimesCohen].

It is not clear if Fayyad met with his former Government spokesman Ghassan Khatib, who also wrote about Fayyad but used no direct quotes = here. Ghassan Khatib wrote essentially the same things as Roger Cohen about Fayyad [+ Abbas] — savvily, but minus the direct quotes, or any words blaming of Fatah.

Meanwhile, Daoud Kuttab has not responded yet to a query I sent him on Twitter this evening:
@Marianhouk —> @daoudkuttab – “any comment on the WAFA story saying “Fayyad’s office” denied he’d given any statements or interviews since resigning?”

If we’re to believe WAFA or the statement from “Fayyad’s office”, Fayyad’s sessions w/ Daoud Kuttab + were on deep background.   The full WAFA [English version] report is posted here:

RAMALLAH, May 4, 2013 (WAFA) – Outgoing Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s office Saturday denied statements slamming the Palestinian leadership which were attributed to Fayyad in an interview with the New York Times. Fayyad’s office said in a statement, ‘The statements in the article are just journalist Roger Cohen’s personal impressions, and certainly not the words of Fayyad, who did not make any statements or conduct interviews for the New York Times or any other newspaper or agency since his resignation’. The New York Times published on May 3 an article titled ‘Fayyad Steps Down, Not Out’ by Cohen, in which Fayyad allegedly described the Palestinian leadership as ‘failed’. Cohen quoted Fayyad saying ‘It is incredible that the fate of the Palestinian people has been in the hands of leaders so entirely casual, so guided by spur-of-the-moment decisions, without seriousness. We don’t strategize, we cut deals in a tactical way and we hold ourselves hostage to our own rhetoric’.  Cohen’s article caused an uproar among Palestinians while Fayyad’s office said that this article must not be published as an interview with Fayyad”.

WAFA reported even more of the statement “Fayyad’s office” in a post on its Arabic pages, here, as the Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh reported here,  WAFA’s Arabic-language report used much harder language — reporting that “Fayyad’s office” had called the NYTimes report a “forgery”:

“The attack on the PA leadership and Fatah clearly embarrassed Fayyad, who said [n.b. — at least “Fayyad’s office” did] in a statement that the Time‘s Roger Cohen had published an op-ed, and not an interview

Fayyad also accused the paper of ‘forgery that carries political dimensions with the goal of causing damage and fomenting strife in order to serve positions that are hostile to the Palestinians and their national project at this sensitive and critical phase’.”

This Arabic-language report on WAFA usAccording to Toameh [via Twitter] a report on the statement made by “Fayyad’s office” also appeared in Ma’an News Agency [Arabic] and on Palpress here.

UPDATE [w/correction]: Ma’an News Agency has published, in English, a story about the “Fayyad office” statement of denial/retraction, here. The Ma’an story noted the statement denying the remarks Fayyad reportedly made to the NYTimes, but then said that “Fayyad resigned on April 13 and is acting as caretaker prime minister, but will leave office completely in three to four weeks, he told the New York Times”.

The pro-Israeli media watchdog group CAMERA wrote here that “This bizarre episode raises at least two points for consideration. First, either the Times or Fayyad is not being truthful about an interview taking place. Second, if Fayyad gave an interview which provoked Fatah’s wrath, resulting in the prime minister’s subsequent denial, then this is yet another reminder about sources and journalists self-censoring when it comes to unflattering information about the Palestinian Authority”.

Then, there was this exchange on Twitter later:
Jonathan Schanzer @JSchanzer 1h
Fayyad’s disavowal of @NYTimesCohen piece feels a lot like King Abdullah’s backtrack on @JeffreyGoldberg’s piece. …

Jeffrey Goldberg Jeffrey Goldberg @JeffreyGoldberg 44m
.@JSchanzer @NYTimesCohen Just fyi, the Jordanian Royal Court retracted its partial denial of the King’s quotes.

Jonathan Schanzer Jonathan Schanzer @JSchanzer 41m
@JeffreyGoldberg @nytimescohen I saw that. Wondering if Fayyad will do the same.