An Economist article on the death of long-time Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat (“Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian who talked to Israel, dies of covid-19″, Nov. 14) included the following paragraph:
A batch of leaked memos, published in 2011 by Al Jazeera, revealed that Mr Erekat and his team offered to cede nearly all of east Jerusalem when negotiating with Israel in 2008. The Palestinians claim that land as the capital of their future state. In Mr Erekat’s words, though, he was ready to give Israel “the biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history” (the Hebrew name for the city). He got nothing in return—and resigned soon after the documents were published, something he did every few years. His departures were always short-lived.
The claim that Erekat “got nothing in return” from the peace talks the Economist is referring to is extraordinarily dishonest.
At the end of the 2008 negotiations, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert offered Mahmoud Abbas a peace offer characterised as the most generous offer Palestinians can ever expect to receive: A contiguous Palestinian state in almost all of the West Bank (with lands swaps), all of Gaza, a capital in east Jerusalem – and a land bridge connecting Gaza with the West Bank.
Moreover, the claim that the Palestinians offered to cede “nearly all of east Jerusalem” in those negotiations is false. Olmert’s deal in fact would have ceded all the Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem to the Palestinians, whilst Israel would have retained control of the Jewish neighborhoods. Israel would actually have ceded sovereignty of the holy sites in the Old City (such as the Temple Mount) to an international committee managed by representatives from five nations: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, the US and Israel.
Though the Economist, per their longstanding tradition, doesn’t list the author of the article, the dateline is listed as Beirut, the location of their Middle East correspondent Greg Carlstrom. You can read our posts about Carlstrom – previously the Jerusalem correspondent at The Times – here.