NEW YORK – “Hamas and the PFLP are not terrorist organizations,” Saeb Erekat, secretary- general of the PLO, said on Thursday at the “UN Forum Marking 50 Years of Occupation.”
Erekat made the comment in response to a question from The Jerusalem Post regarding recent Israeli allegations that some of the organizations participating in the event were linked to the two groups.
Earlier during the forum, he called Hamas a “Palestinian political party.”
“We are a people who strive to achieve our independence, and our choice in the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization, is to achieve peace peacefully through negotiations,” he added.
Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon released a statement on Wednesday saying that according to intelligence, the group Al-Haq, whose representative was to speak at the event, collaborates with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, known as the PFLP. Earlier this month, the PFLP claimed responsibility for the murder of policewoman Hadas Malka, killed in a June 16 stabbing attack just outside Jerusalem’s Old City.
In addition, the Israeli mission said information it had received showed that the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, another group at the conference, works regularly with Hamas.
Both Hamas and the PFLP have been on the US State Department’s list of terrorist organizations since 1997. The European Union, too, recognizes them as such.
“They have no shame,” Danon said.
“These are lies and incitement from those who are paying terrorists to kill innocent Israelis. These obsessive attempts to besmirch our good name will not change the fact that the Palestinian leadership refuses to end their support for terror.”
As part of his address to the forum, Erekat also accused Israel’s prime minister of promoting apartheid.
“The Israeli government headed by Mr.
Benjamin Netanyahu,” he said, “is trying to replace the two-state solution with one state/two systems: apartheid. Ignoring facts does not mean they don’t exist.”
Erekat took out of his pocket his ID card.
“Today, in 2017, 50 years later, Palestinians go with this green ID card, Israelis have blue ones,” he said, referring to the 1967 Six Day War. “They make us drive cars with white and green plates; they go with yellow plates. There are roads in the West Bank today that we cannot use as Palestinians.”
According to Erekat, Netanyahu wants to continue occupying the Palestinian people and has no interest in achieving peace.
“He says: ‘I will demolish your home, I will build more settlements, I will humiliate you, but you have to wake up in the morning and pray to God and thank him that you are under our occupation. If you don’t, I will unleash the forces of the Nikki Haleys and others to smear you,’” he said, referring to the US ambassador to the UN.
The PLO secretary-general also addressed the need to defeat Islamic State in the Middle East, adding that ending the Israeli occupation was key to doing so.
“There is no difference between a thug and a murderer who slits the throats of Western journalists in Syria and Iraq, and a thug and a murderer who burns alive an 18-month-old toddler, Ali Sa’ed Dawabsha, along with his mother, father and brother simply because they are not Jewish,” he said, referring to a 2015 arson attack in the West Bank widely attributed to Jewish extremists.
The brother was seriously burned but died not die of his injuries.