Elliott Abrams

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Israel and the Palestinians: Mr. Sha’ath Strikes Again

by Elliott Abrams
September 10, 2013


Today’s New York Times carries an interesting story about the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations being fostered by Secretary of State Kerry. Basically, Sha’ath has made a claim that American officials are politely denying:

Signs of strain emerged Monday around the nascent Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, as a senior Palestinian official said Secretary of State John Kerry had “guaranteed us in writing” that negotiations would start from the 1967 lines, and American officials suggested he was not telling the truth. Nabil A. Shaath, the Palestinian commissioner for international relations, said the Palestinians had agreed to enter the talks only because of the guarantee. He declined to provide a copy, but when asked if it was signed by Mr. Kerry personally, said: “Absolutely. We wouldn’t have done it without this.”

But American officials denied there was such a document, which would have been a significant gesture to the Palestinians and could have enraged Israel. “We have always said that if you don’t hear news about the talks from senior U.S. officials, you can’t count on it being reliable,” Marie E. Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. “This is a good example.”

This is not the first time that Sha’ath has invented claims about the United States. In 2005, he made several such statements to the BBC:

In the BBC film, a former Palestinian foreign minister, Nabil Shaath, says that Mr Bush told a Palestinian delegation in 2003 that God spoke to him and said: “George, go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan” and also “George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq”.

This was completely false and invented by Sha’ath, as apparently is the new story about a document signed by Secretary Kerry. In the 2003 case, there was no moment when Sha’ath was alone with Bush; there were always several other people in the conversation, as might have been expected. Sha’ath simply made this all up.

For the U.S. and Israel, his renewed role is a sad sign as to the seriousness of Palestinian negotiators.

Post a Comment 8 Comments

  • Posted by Gary Katz

    Gee, a Palestinian negotiator lying? What a shocker!

  • Posted by shloime

    faux-palestinians lying is nothing new – what is amazing is the denial from the state department!

    i can’t think of anything like this ever happening before, whether about arab claims to jerusalem, or settlement freezes, or even the “two-state solution” (which is neither).

    there’s a first time for everything, i guess.

  • Posted by Lily

    Sha’ath quote, dated July 2011:
    “The story of ‘two states for two peoples’ means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this – not as part of the French initiative and not as part of the American initiative.”

    Perhaps the Administration should be informed. Its officials appear unaware of anything that happened more than a week ago.

  • Posted by yuval Brandstetter MD

    Muslims in general and palestinians in particular never lie. Because a lie is a Western idea, a Jewish idea. Rather they have a Narrative which is as successful as it is falacious. Shaath never lies: He fabricates whatever suits his purpose, and its the world’s problem if they take it as anything but a fabrication

  • Posted by Tawfiq El-Zabri

    A lot of Palestinians distrust Shaath and seeing him involved is disheartening. As much as he claims to have inner confidences, he also promises and compromises on legitimate grievances and claims of the Palestinian people, who have suffered injustice for too long.

    But frankly, when it comes to politicians, it doesn’t matter what they say- they are all playing games and there is so much fabrication for the general public. What we really should be talking about is: is anyone genuinely pushing for peace-making, or is this also a show?

    Yuval, are you generalizing this instance to an entire religion and race? I think there’s a good name for that, and it goes beyond stereo-typing. Reminds me of Jews in Europe before the wars.

  • Posted by Lily

    Perhaps, Tawfiq, you would prefer to hear Yuval’s message from an Arab — specifically, a Tunisian:

    Hadi Yahmad, The Arab Backwardness Is A Breeding Ground For Terrorists, 11 September 2013.

    Whatever palestinians have or have no suffered, it is entirely self-inflicted. Remember that.

    Arabs from throughout the Mideast have moved in their millions over the last 60 years, heading for America and Europe. But palestinian arabs will not be content unless they live in the territory in which their great-great-grandfathers were born — a territory they themselves have never seen. Give us a break!

  • Posted by diana

    1922-1936, Illegal Arab immigration into Israel, coming from Sinai, Syria and Jordan. In 1934 more than 30.000 Syrians came from Houran. 1929 Hebron massacre by foreign Arabs, not the Arab families who had been leaving in peace w/the Jews for centuries.

    In June 1949 Sir John Troutbeck, head of the British Middle East office in Cairo reported that the refugees “express no bitterness against the Jews (or for that matter against the Americans or ourselves) they speak with
    the utmost bitterness of the Egyptians and other Arab states. “We know who our enemies are,” they will say, and they are referring to their Arab brothers who, they declare, persuaded them unnecessarily to leave their homes…I even heard it
    said that many of the refugees would give a welcome to the Israelis if they were to come in and take the district over.”

    Some family-tribe names that denotes were the Palestinians really came from: Al Masri : The Egyptian Al Horani: Syria Tara Bulsi: Tripoli Sidawi: from Sydon Sorani: from Tyre, Lebanon

  • Posted by Omar Nashashibi

    Shaath, what ever else he is, has been for long the USA favourite Palestinian when it comes to official post in the PLO or the PA.
    His inclusion in the Executive of the former and in the myriad of senior positions of the latter has been a standing USA position.
    Lately he has been sidelined, from public view, whether as a spent entity or as potential reserve is not clear and remains to be seen.
    His declaration should be considered in conjunction with this fact of life; as perceived from the outside.

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