Photo Credit: Amir Levy / Flash 90
Saeb Erekat, Palestine Liberation Organization

{Reposted from the author’s website}

It fills me with no pride that senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat was this week given VIP treatment for acute coronavirus at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. It does not make me feel moral or altruistic, nor does treating him represent the “finest Jewish ethics,” as some commentators have gushed. Israel is a light unto the nations without having to treat an enemy like Saeb Erekat.


In fact, I am not sure Israel’s Minister of Defense should have approved Saeb Erekat’s request for emergency treatment in Israel. It is not at all certain that “Jewish values” require us to heal him, and I am quite certain that Erekat doesn’t deserve it. If Erekat is nevertheless benefiting from Israel’s ultra-benevolence, it is because we desperately want to believe that (almost) every person was created in the image of God.

Many Israelis and Jews worldwide are extraordinarily proud of the fact that Israeli hospitals treat hundreds of Palestinian Arabs and Arabs from countries that do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, especially innocent children. It is a fine humanitarian thing to do; and maybe, just maybe, the Arab kids who are saved by Israeli doctors might one day be a bridge towards peace.

But I never have bought the assertion that Israel has an “obligation” to do so stemming from its “responsibility for the occupation” or from some sweet-sounding and misinterpreted halachic dictum. Nor do I believe that the world truly grants Israel credit for such humanitarian effort. Few have tempered their political hostility towards this country in recognition of its medical kindheartedness.

I certainly do not feel that such goodwill must apply to corrupt and lying leaders like Saeb Erekat. For the past 30 years, Erekat has been an ultimate obstruction to peace between Israel and the Palestinians; the dirtiest defamer of Israel, without shame; and, ironically, master planner of the Palestinian Authority’s campaign to isolate and boycott Israel.

SAEB EREKAT is a unique phenomenon in the Palestinian orbit. Since Oslo, he has played the dual role of negotiator-in-chief for the Palestinian Authority (PA) and propagandist par excellence for the regimes of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas. His record of lies and dissimulations is legion, and his dishonesty has deepened with time. History will yet record his abysmal role in the many mistakes of the Palestinian national movement.

In fact, Erekat never has been serious about peace with Israel, and he purposefully obstructed every single round of negotiations. His presence on the Palestinian team always was a hindrance, not any help, to the diplomatic process. There never has been a parley where he brought a concrete compromise proposal to the table on any issue.

In the 2014 talks led by then-US Secretary of State John Kerry, Erekat planned from the very beginning to abandon the process as soon as the PA got its terrorist henchmen freed from Israel jails. From the get-go, it was Erekat’s plan to revert to the “international route” – the seeking of unilateral global recognition for Palestinian statehood and the criminalization of Israel in international forums, including the ICC.

Even before Kerry could present his bridging proposals in March 2014, Erekat penned an official PLO strategy document (“Study Paper No. 15”) which detailed the Palestinian strategy to blow the talks out of the water. Erekat called upon the PA to “put forward requests for accession to international institutions, protocols and conventions, and specifically the four Geneva Conventions,” and to move to “reconciliation and the strengthening of Palestinian national unity… with the Hamas and Jihad movements in election of a new State of Palestine Executive Committee.”

Instead of seeking peace, Erekat specialized in ranting endlessly about Israeli oppression and crimes. And when he spoke to the global press, he lied baldly, badly, and relentlessly. Remember the much-ballyhooed “Jenin massacre”? That was one of Erekat’s malicious and far-reaching fabrications.

More recently, Erekat spread the canard that Israeli troops at checkpoints purposefully infected Palestinians with corona, and that other Israelis spit deathly corona droplets on Palestinian car door handles and windshields. This is not too far from the classic antisemitic trope about Jews poisoning the wells in Europe.

It also is the utmost chutzpa because Erekat knew that during the first months of the pandemic Israel did everything in its power and its purse to assist the PA in fighting coronavirus. Generous Israeli assistance to the PA lasted through the end of May when – at Erekat’s urging – the PA announced a boycott of all assistance from or through Israel, for any budgetary, humanitarian, or other need.

(This was in response to Israel’s announcement that it wished to advance the sovereignty plank in the new American peace plan. Ever since, the PA has refused to accept even the monthly transfer of customs duties collected for the PA by Israel, even though Israel set-aside the sovereignty plan in August).

Not only that. In May, the PA rejected receipt of two planes-full of coronavirus aid for the PA because the planes delivering the cargo landed at Ben-Gurion Airport. Erekat accused the UAE of “promoting normalization” with Israel, Heaven forfend; and Israel of “whitewashing” its coronavirus crimes.

And here is one more bitter, ugly irony from the propaganda shop of Saeb Erekat. When he got deathly sick this week, Erekat knew how to make a run for the best medical care Israel can offer. But he has cynically and cruelly denied that opportunity to his own people.

You see, there has been a significant downturn this year in the number of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza being treated in Israeli hospitals. This is because the PA has stopped paying for the treatment of Palestinians in Israeli hospitals – as part of the Erekat-authored “anti-normalization” and “boycott Israel” campaigns.

How much more hypocritical and heartless can you get?

IN SHORT, Erekat embodies the mendacity and futility of the Palestinian mindset. His wretched record reveals just how far away Palestinian leadership is from accepting the premises necessary for true peace with Israel.

Some naïve Israelis have expressed the hope that if Erekat recovers, he might repent; meaning, that having enjoyed the blessings of first-rate and color-blind Israeli medical treatment, Erekat would come to see the error of his ways and cease demonizing Israel.

Or that once recovered Erekat might enable the treatment of everyday Palestinians in Israeli hospitals by re-funding this treatment (instead of vociferously defending PA payments to terrorists that slay Israelis).

Or that once recovered Erekat might stop cursing out Emiratis and Bahrainis who now are partnering with Israel to develop breakthrough medical technologies and even a coronavirus cure.

Or that once recovered Erekat might cease slandering Israelis as colonizers, agents of apartheid, war criminals, and destroyers of Al Aqsa.

I say: Do not hold your breath for any such congeniality or reconciliation from Erekat! Even if his lungs are healed by Israeli doctors and he once again merits to breathe on his own, you can be sure that Saeb will continue to slander Israel until his very, very last breath.

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The writer is a senior fellow at The Kohelet Forum and at Israel’s Defense and Security Forum (Habithonistim). The views expressed here are his own. His diplomatic, defense, political, and Jewish world columns over the past 26 years are archived at