Categorized | Palestine Affairs

Traitor Erekat said to Zionist Regime Prevent Gaza Smuggling

PLO urged Israel and Egypt to do more to prevent Gaza smuggling

Leaked documents underline hostility of PLO towards Hamas – but show Palestinian leadership willing to negotiate in long run.


Hamas security guards, Palestine

Hamas security forces standing guard in Gaza in December. The documents show the PA willing to negotiate with Hamas ‘in order to avoid the loss of Gaza and the break-up of the territories’.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership complained to the US envoyGeorge Mitchell in 2009 that not enough was being done to seal off tunnels breaking the siege of the Gaza Strip and urged that more be done by Israel and Egypt to prevent the smuggling of goods and weapons into the territory, leaked documents reveal.

The papers underline the profound hostility of the PLO towards its Islamist rival, which grew after the Hamas takeover of the strip in June 2007 effectively split the occupied Palestinian territories into two separate zones and show PA leaders resisting giving Hamas any role in controlling crossing points into the Gaza Strip.

The PA demanded at once that the “international community not legitimise the actions of Hamas” but also made clear that in the long run “there must be some sort of dialogue and reconciliation with Hamas in order to avoid the loss of Gaza and the break-up of the territories”.

But in September 2009 Saeb Erekat, the PLO’s chief negotiator, told Mitchell that the tunnels dug under the border were still functioning despite huge expenditure and extensive counter-measures on the Egyptian side.

Referring to a meeting with senior Israeli security official Amos Gilad, Erekat said: “I told Amos Gilad: you are Egypt’s man. You know the Egyptians.” In a reference to the length of the Egyptian border with Gaza, he went on: “11kms! What’s going on with you and the US, the $23million [donated by the US to block the tunnels]. It’s business as usual in the tunnels — the Hamas economy.”

In 2008 there were also repeated warnings that Hamas could claim victory after the Gaza crossings were opened. “The opening of the crossings works both ways,” the PA prime minister, Salam Fayyad, told Quartet envoy Tony Blair that March. “If Hamas is seen as having succeeded in opening them then the message will be that rockets yield results….Israel’s dealing unilaterally on Gaza is only undermining the PA. I am not sure how many more blows our government can take before we are rendered completely ineffective.”

Israel’s policy, then as now, was to back the PA. “Our strategic view is to strengthen you and weaken Hamas,” Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, told Palestinian negotiators. The PA was painfully aware of the dangers posed by the rival movement, especially when peace talks were not advancing. “We know the devastating impact of a stalemate vis a vis Hamas, Iran, relations with Israel,” Erekat told a US official last January. In the same vein, he told colleagues in May 2009: “Hamas is a tool for (Israeli prime minister Binyamin) Netanyahu, he is counting on them to stay the course. And Hamas is counting on Netanyahu to stay the course. Netanyahu’s only card is Palestinian division.”

The papers show that PA leaders also feared that the US, specifically the CIA, and Israel were secretly planning to deal with Hamas behind their backs. Russia was criticised for sending the wrong signals, which President Mahmoud Abbas compared to a Palestinian dialogue with anti-Russian Chechen Islamist rebels.

Fighting Hamas emerges also as the central feature of the security cooperation between the two sides, with Israel repeatedly warning the PA against a Hamas takeover in the West Bank. “I know that Israel wants security and it’s a major concern for her,” PLO negotiator Ahmed Qureia told his Israeli counterparts in February 2008. “But sometimes I feel that you exaggerate the whole matter and other times that it’s part of a policy of conspiracy and the imposition of new realities on the ground for the purpose of confiscating more land or dictating new conditions.”

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