When Netanyahu first started forming a government, Saeb Erekat tried to use his supposed intransigence as a weapon to get the US to go against him. From a February 27, 2009 meeting with George Mitchell:
It seems they are moving towards a government with 65 seats. Livni told Netanyahu her conditions for coalition: two states and political negotiations. AM [Abu Mazen/Mahmoud Abbas] cannot demand less than Livni. We want to continue the political process and negotiations. We are committed to that. But if Israel doesn’t recognize the two-state solution and continues settlements, it will be the last nail in AM’s coffin if we send him to negotiate.
...If Netanyahu forms a government with a party that has 15 seats, with an official platform of ethnic cleansing and expulsion of Muslims and Christians who are Israeli citizens … if Barack Obama wants a policy of reconciliation with the Muslim and Arab world … with your kids dying all over the region.
You have a choice. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. You have either the cost-free way: pressure us to negotiate, which means AM negotiating with Netanyahu under continuing settlement and without recognition – this would be the last nail in AM’s coffin, or you have another choice: take the Annapolis statement: two states, and negotiations over all core issues. If the Israeli government doesn’t include in its mandate the two-states and negotiating on all issues including Jerusalem … [hands GM paper submitted to the EU via the Czechs] We are committed to peace and negotiations for two states, but we won’t engage without this.
Netanyahu will go to President Obama and tell him “Iran.” He will say he is committed. Then he will build settlements in E1 and elsewhere – like he did in Har Homa. You cannot be expected to demand less of Netanyahu than what Livni demanded.
In a later meeting with the Negotiations Support Unit, Erekat talks a little more frankly about his strategy with to split Obama from Netanyahu and get him to wholeheartedly take the Palestinian Arab side.
Hamas is a tool for 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, and also Ahmadinejad. Everyone can see how Israel is using Ahmadinejad’s comments. Ahamadinjed should be saying we want to add Palestine to the map, not removing Israel from the map. He doesn’t serve our cause with his holocaust denials.At this point, the PA's main card with the US has been their conviction that Netanyahu was going to remain publicly against a two-state solution.
As far as contact with Israel, its business as usual. I talk with Amos Gilad and other generals. Uzi Arad and I mutually do not want to meet with each other. I want to wait to see what they present to Obama. Netanyahu is saying he doesn’t want a two state solution. It is not us who are saying we don’t want to negotiate. Anyone who says they don’t recognize the two-state solution rejects final status negotiations. The question everyone should be asking Netanyahu is, “will you talk about Jerusalem, refugees, etc., Yes or No?”
Azem Bichara: There is lots of buildup to Netanyahu’s meeting with Obama, how can we help with that? Should we write an Op-ed before AM’s meeting outlining our ideas?
SE: Do one in my name. Prepare for me a good press conference after AM’s meeting. We need to issue a statement right after Netanyahu’s meeting.
Alex Kouttab: Do you have any concrete idea of what Netanyahu is going to propose to Obama?
SE: He is going to say “we will remove road blocks, outposts, etc. but if a settler child needs a new bathroom, we will build it.” But he will continue to build E1 and demolish homes. He is a master of ambiguity.
Then Netanyahu publicly said he would support a two-state solution under specific conditions.
This put the Palestinian Arabs on the defensive:
Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh
1) AM must deliver a speech and he should use the opportunity of the graduation of the Arab American University in Jenin to deliver it from there.
2) We need to have a diplomatic campaign across the world to explain what was misleading
and false in BN’s speech and what our positions are.
3) We have to give BN a hard time in the international arena.
4) We need to summon the Consuls General and brief them so they will deliver the message
to (their) respective capitals before BN goes to Europe.
5) We must not give the impression that we are dealing with this Israeli government. This is a very wise decision. Limit interactions to a minimum and to the most urgent. We need to
focus our time away from negotiations and on our internal affairs.
We don’t need a spokesperson, we need a media machine. We want to launch this campaign
– not have the journalists come to us or wait for us. We have to think of our objective: What
is the purpose of this? A) isolate BN, B) make him resign, or C) or make him change his
Erekat to George Mitchell, October 20, 2009, shows the PA's new intransigent position regarding Netanyahu:
Either they are partners – 67 border, swaps – anything short of that, that’s it. This is a defining moment for the government. Don’t listen to him [BN]. He’s dead, if he has no engagement with us.
And then the next day:
[Erekat]: We cannot have resumption of negotiations with this government. We will punish Netanyahu. He can’t survive without a process with us. We won’t give him leverage of taking us for a ride and continuing settlements while we negotiate. Am I clear, David? This is the decision of the leadership – the PLO executive committee and the Fatah central committee. They won’t allow it. Period. Finito.
David Hale: Your staying in this position means no direct negotiations.
SE: No direct negotiations if there is no freeze and an exclusion of Jerusalem.
DH: So what do you propose?
SE: I know what I’m talking about and I see where things are heading. ... So no Palestinian decision-making body will change this position on the freeze. Not after Goldstone.
... We're also in touch with Israelis and Jewish groups – not [just] J street or just the Labour party. We don’t see Netanyahu as the end of the world – the Lieberman/Netanyahu cabinet. If we go for negotiations with them we will kill the others.
There's a lot more in that last memo that we will get to soon.