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Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Middle East political anecdote

Plans are underway for the first Fatah conference in twenty years to be held in Bethlehem in August.

One of the problems, though, is a question about whether Hamas and Israel will allow Fatah members from Gaza to attend. Israel has said it would study the matter.

Hamas, however, arrested some of the Fatah members slated to go to the conference, and one PA leader said that Hamas is the only obstacle to the conference right now.

Meanwhile, PA negotiator and serial liar Saeb Erekat met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki over the weekend. He wanted to meet with Israel's security chief Uzi Arad to talk about whether Israel will give permission for Gaza Fatah members to travel to Bethlehem, and Arad turned him down because of Israel's displeasure that its "peace partner" was meeting with a country committed to destroying Israel.

Now, Mahmoud Abbas has already said that he would not have any peace negotiations with Israel until there is a complete halt to all construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. This doesn't mean that Israeli and PA officials don't meet on other matters all the time, but that fact is not publicized very much.

So when the Israeli newspapers had headlines that Arad refused to meet with Erekat, it looked to the Palestinian Arabs like Erekat was a liar when he said that he wouldn't meet any Israelis for peace talks.

Instead of explaining that he anted to talk to Israelis to get the Fatah members out of Gaza for the conference, Erekat instead denied a story that never happened. He said that he never asked to meet with any Israeli teams for peace negotiations. That is true, but he made it sound like he was denying wanting to meet Israeli officials altogether, which is not true at all.

This way, Erekat plays to his audience, publicly showing off his intransigence, and implying that Arad is a liar, when in fact he is being purposefully deceptive secure in his knowledge that no Palestinian Arab reporter will call him on it.

Here's a story that shows a more accurate picture about Israel, the PA, Hamas and even Iran than the MSM ever covers. The simplistic story lines that Israel is running a "prison" in Gaza when Hamas is often the one keeping people in, that the PA is "moderate" even as they meet with Iran, that Erekat is flexible even as he brags in Arabic about how he will never compromise with Israel and won't even talk to Israelis, all to save face - this is what really happens. People who don't understand these multiple layers of what is happening will never get it.