Diana Butto asks: how can Sa'eb Erekat retain the title of "Chief Palestinian Negotiator"

In an internet interview, from an unclear and unspecified location, with the new “TV” unit of the Institute of Palestine Studies, Diana Butto — a Canadian-born Israeli-Arab-Palestinian former spokesperson for the PLO’s Negotiations Support Unit, who later also worked, for a period, for Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad —

“We already knew about Israel’s intransigence, but what’s more interesting for me is the level of desperation, and the ways in which they tried to get the Israeli negotiators to actually like and support them, in order to get a better position”… We never really saw the dialog between the Israeli negotiators and Palestinian negotiators, but what we heard from the Palestinian negotiators all the time was just a clinging to slogans”.

Here is the full interview:

Diana Butto also says, in this interview:
“It reveals that Israel was simply not interested in having negotiations in the first place…

“You see the U.S. role in this — and both of these two actors point out what should be, what is patently obvious … You can’t have a weak party negotiating with a much stronger party…it’s never going to work. If there’s one thing we should be learning about this is that’s we should be moving away from this model of negotiations to something that is very different [she does not give any suggestions].

“We have no transparency in the West Bank. We can’t see how much money, for example, a very small thing, what percentage of the budget is spent on the security apparatus? How much money does the President’s Office have? How much money do they spend when they go out on these trips to the U.S. and the rest of the world? … At the end of the day, this is information that the PA and the PLO have never revealed in open sources to the Palestinian people, which is why people are upset about it, and which is why they []are backpedalling”…

On Palestinian reactions: “I guess I had expected that people were going to be more upset about the papers than anything else … But this is already is a government, a leadership that is entirely unrepresentative of Palestinians, in that they haven’t been elected, certainly the PLO officials have not been elected … I’m not entirely certain how Sa’eb Erekat was appointed ‘Chief Palestinian Negotiator’, and why he gets to retain that title, even after several of the blunders that he’s made in the past. So this is a leadership that’s not very representative, and yet there hasn’t been a massive revolt against this leadership”…

“The two more muted reactions are far more interesting — the first is to blame Qatar … and then the other reaction is one … that I hope will take shape more in the future: that somebody needs to be held accountable for all of these things, whether on the basic level, why are these documents so unsecure? That’s something that somebody needs to be held accountable for, namely Sa’eb Erekat; and for the fact of what’s contained in these documents, somebody should be held to account; the fact that these positions were taken, somebody should be held to account”.

Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem + Ramallah: a "monstrosity"

Here, from the Institute for Palestine Studies TV (yes!) is an interview with an American professor (of Palestinian origin, apparently) about describe the disgraceful Qalandia [Qalandiya] checkpoint — or “border terminal” — between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Asked to try to describe this large and terrible checkpoint for those who have never seen it, Professor Helga Tawil-Souri said the first word that came to her mind was “monstrosity” — then followed by “oppressive”, “scary”, “sad”, “absurd”, and “disruptive”.

Like other Israeli checkpoints to control Palestinian movement, Professor Tawil-Souri said, it has also become a transport, economic and social hub. It has also, like other checkpoints, become a focus of protest … from time to time.

Continue reading Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem + Ramallah: a "monstrosity"