This from the Guardian’s coverage of the Palestine Papers today. Saeb Erekat, lead Palestinian negotiator is explaining how difficult it is to swallow the sh%^-sandwich presented by the Israelis as the temporary freeze of illegal settlement building. For some crazy reason, Erekat and others were expecting a permanent and substantive freeze, although I’m at a loss to understand what would have prompted that expectation. Despite the fact that the US has spoken of such freezes, and despite the fact that settlement building is illegal as just noted, George Mitchell tells Erekat to buck up and check the color of his parachute:
Israel duly insisted that any freeze – or moratorium – could only be partial and temporary. PA leaders quickly saw the chance they had banked on slipping away. “So much for Obama and rapprochement,” Erekat is recorded as saying. “There is not a new word! Give me something at least to save face!”.
When the US agreed that Jerusalem could be exempted from the settlement freeze, Erekat said that would be acquiescing in “ethnic cleansing”.
“The reality is,” Mitchell privately told the PLO official in October 2009, “no negotiations is not in your interest. So we are to come up with a statement to give you a ladder to climb down on this issue – just like you asked …. Now you are arguing over the color of the ladder.”
Mitchell is basically telling Erekat to keep negotiating despite the fact that he gets nothing out of the negotiations. He’s even annoyed that Erekat needs more political cover to sell his most recent experience in institutionalized failure of the past two decades. Apparently, the Obama administration believes that Palestinians are as gullible as Democrats.