Saeb Erekat (SE) ? Robert Serry (RS)
October 13 2009
RS: I met Daniel Rubenstein for the first time. We are seeking an envoys? meeting. Frankly I am pissed off that the US is not involving any of us ? also Marc Otte ? in the Quartet. Since it was my first meeting I didn?t want to be angry, but the Quartet needs to take responsibility per the Trieste Declaration ? the 4 principals … The last thing, however, that we want to see is a complete impasse leading to US disengagement. What we are hoping for, rather, is a US re-engagement. The Israelis want to finish it off. I saw Mike Herzog…
SE: Of course that?s what the Israelis want. They?ve been given the biggest ladder. The question you should be asking the US is: “What is it that you want us to support?” They want your support but they won?t tell you what for. Now we know they have concluded a “package” [discusses details]. Politically, under no circumstance can we accept the exclusion of East Jerusalem. We told them it is a non-starter. Essentially they are downgrading Israel?s Phase I obligations and upgrading ours. They?ve cancelled Phase I. On the ToR they won?t even mention the 67 border, after all we have been through with Rice, and all the far-reaching discussions with Olmert. There are limits on what we can tolerate. All this means that Bibi has succeeded in canceling Phase I and Phase III. He?s brought the Americans to the Likud position that even Sharon didn?t accept. Now it?s only Phase II left.
RS: Are the Americans pushing a state with provisional borders?
SE: They are only saying “go with this process”. Barack Obama is your best chance. I don?t have any disagreement with the US. They are our friends and allies. My problem is not with Barack Obama, it is with Bibi Netanyahu and the occupation. It is time for the Quartet to say “two states on the 67 border” ? and I am willing to accept “with agreed modifications”.
RS: That was my statement in the Quartet…
SE: Yes and I thank you for it. Europe is ready. The Russians are ready … [side discussion on UN Rapporteur Falk?s statements on Al-jazeera regarding the PA position on the Goldstone report and his subsequent apology].
I told the Americans, if you take me down this process, you will do the following: you will crown Netanyahu king for years; you will doom even Sharon?s line; you will kill Livni; we enter negotiations, then Bibi announces building in Jerusalem, and the negotiations collapse. I asked them for a change of approach. This time there is absolutely no force on Earth that will push us down this path. I told them we have our BATNA. We will not repeat what Arafat did. We will continue to maintain security, one authority one gun, the rule of law, but we will demand equal rights in one state…
RS: I understand it was a frank discussion …
SE: He [AM] told Mitchell the alternative is the one state. And I told the Americans he will call for elections and resign.
RS: I warned Daniel Rubenstein and David Hale: Don?t push your only reasonable partner into the abyss. In our report …
SE: I appreciate what you did …on Goldstone … security council tomorrow.
RS: The SC will be just a talk. Geneva is the important forum now. The majority in the SC want to follow the procedure to go through the HRC before the SC. Did you talk with Marc Otte?
SE: Yesterday ? after his communiqué. I told him don?t talk about rapprochement without the 67 border. The Quartet needs to spell that out: 67 border with minor agreed modifications.
RS: Have you changed position on settlement freeze if you get that?
SE: No. There is no quid pro quo. We explained to the Americans how there will be more settlements and more settlers in 2010 and 2011 than in 2008 and 2009. We gave them charts and figures, which we will pass on to you. So it?s both: Settlement freeze and the ToRs.
RS: We have a setback. The challenge is we don?t want US disengagement, but we need US re-engagement.
SE: It?s important that you go to them with substance …
RS: I will get to substance, but here are my thoughts: it is time for the international community to put the cards on the table. So the US should drop the pressure, win some time without losing engagement. Maybe Mitchell should start discussing with each side on substance.
SE: This is what we said at the beginning. Instead the US opted for the matrix of responsibilities ? fine but they did not get the settlement freeze. We told them we had far-reaching discussions with the Israelis on the swaps, the numbers of refugees, we agreed security for the day after with Jones …
RS: So we have to come forward with a framework …
SE: Yes. The End Game. Quartet Parameters.
RS: It has to be US led, but with a greater role, and endorsement by the Quartet. A clear End Game proposal. Even if Bibi balks, it will be very difficult for any Israeli government to simply reject this for long. Maybe we need the dip we are in to get the US to refocus. We don?t however want them to disengage and blame you.
SE: I agree. This is the best course of action.
RS: We need to go public with this, but it is a matter of timing.
SE: We should issue a statement after every meeting …
RS: Put the cards on the table. If the US doesn?t it means they are not showing leadership.
SE: I told the US: I count on you. You are not my problem. The problem is Netanyahu. I told this to Hillary, to Jones, to Mitchell.
RS: This is a dip, but let us not be apocalyptic.
SE: Let?s not. I want to convey our thanks to Ban Ki-Moon for supporting AM when every one abandoned him. Eventually Hillary and Mitchell said the right thing.
RS: I?ve been seeing Salam Fayyad on Jerusalem. One thing is we need to find a dignified solution for the Sheikh Jarrah families ? give them a package to rent something in the area, in Jerusalem. We have also been talking to the Jordanians.
SE: It has to be Salam -- not you or the Jordanians to pay them.
RS: Of course.