PLO ambassador Maen Areikat offers tacit support for Israeli ethnic cleansing, apartheid

In a shocking statement, Maen Areikat, the “ambassador” of the unelected, unrepresentative Palestinian Authority/PLO leadership, has reportedly espoused Israel’s brutal vision of apartheid and racial segregation.

Even worse, his comments provide support for Israeli leaders who advocate expulsion of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

USA Today reports:

WASHINGTON – The Palestine Liberation Organization’s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that any future Palestinian state it seeks with help from the United Nations and the United States should be free of Jews.

“After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated,” Maen Areikat, the PLO ambassador, said during a meeting with reporters sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor. He was responding to a question about the rights of minorities in a Palestine of the future.

Anti-Palestinian propagandists are trying to spin this comment as being anti-Jewish, as the newspaper reports:

Such a state would be the first to officially prohibit Jews or any other faith since Nazi Germany, which sought a country that was judenrein, or cleansed of Jews, said Elliott Abrams, a former U.S. National Security Council official.

However, the real victims of the PA/PLO’s espousal of apartheid will not be Jews – whom the PA already conceded would remain in settlements to be annexed to Israel – but Palestinian citizens of Israel.

For years, Israeli leaders including foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni have openly espoused the “transfer” of the 1.4 million Palestinian citizens of Israel to a putative Palestinian “state.” Israel now demands that Palestinians specifically recognize it as a “Jewish state” – granting special and better rights to Jews at the expense of non-Jewish native people.

The Palestine Papers released by Al Jazeera early this year showed that Israeli officials constantly pushed for “land swaps” in negotiations with the PA which would have forced Palestinian citizens of Israel into a Palestinian mini-state.

Unless Areikat, who has no legitimate mandate to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people, repudiates these comments, expect to see Israeli officials quoting them in support of their plans to expel the Palestinians from Haifa, Jaffa, Acre and the Galilee in pursuit of their racist vision of an ethnically pure “Jewish state.”

Update: Areikat backs away from remarks

In a follow up interview with The Huffington Post, Areikat has attempted to clarify and back away from his remarks. The Huffington Post also states:

A tape recording of Areikat’s remarks from the on-the-record breakfast Wednesday morning, sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, shows that his words were more nuanced than first reported: He described the terms as his “personal” view, and specified that this situation would apply “at first,” not in perpetuity.

According to the tape recording, Areikat had said:

Well, you know, I think - I still believe, I personally still believe that as a first step we need to be totally separated, and we can contemplate these issues in the future. But after the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction I think it would be in the best interests of the two peoples to be separated at first.

Despite these clarifications, Areikat’s emphasis on people being “totally separated” plays into the hands of racist Israeli politicians who insist that hafrada – the Hebrew term for “separation” which can of course be translated as “apartheid” – is the only way to “peace.”

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Palestinians are struggling for a state for all citizens who live in this country. We want to see Cohen as the President of the High court, George as a Prime Minister and Ahmad as a President and maybe a citizen who is originally from India as the head of the Parliament... racism has no place here, since our struggle is for justice and freedom for all people who live in this country. racism is embedded in the current israeli system but we shall overcome and a secular democratic state will be the only solution...

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From my reading of the Palestinian Papers, the Israelis are not talking about "expel[ling] Palestinians from [their hometowns] in Haifa, Jaffa, Acre and the Galilee " that are currently in Israel proper as you said, but for putting them under the sovereignty of a Palestinian state in return for the settlements in the West Bank. And from what I'v read in the Palestinian Papers article that you wrote for AJE, there is no ethnic cleansing of these Arab citizens of Israel with regards to the land swaps.

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You were correct .these people were never elected,never mandated,never authorized by the people.Their major advantage is that they are "approved by US /Europeans and Israel ".Abbas was elected in 2005 for 4 years,he claimed it was for 5 years,in all events his mandate expired yet still he runs the show as if nothing happened. What ever outcome reached by these unelected so called leaders can never be binding on the Palestinian people.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.