RAMALLAH, July 20 (JMCC) - Saeb Erekat, for years the head Palestinian negotiator in peace talks with Israel, has confirmed to The National
that his resignation in February in the wake of leaks from his office never resulted in his stepping down.
Erekat submitted his resignation after al-Jazeera
and the Guardian
publicized leaked memos from talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials. He has always maintained that he resigned because the leaks came from his office, deflecting criticism over his role in the negotiations themselves.
Still Erekat soldiered on, being quoted in the media and attending official meetings as a negotiator. Now, Erekat says that he resigned from the Negotiations Affairs Department that ran the talks, not from the actual role.
It was announced that I resigned from my office, the negotiations affairs department, and that I'm still the chief negotiator, he explained in a telephone interview earlier this week. It was announced and it was known that I am the chief negotiator and that I do the negotiations, he said.
That is a skilled parsing of last February's events: the statement by spokesman Yaser Abed Rabbo in February announcing Mr Erekat's resignation makes no mention of retaining his post as chief negotiator. Whatever the case, there should be no doubts about the re-emergence of the 56-year-old Mr Erekat.
There he was in Washington earlier this month, courting the media with his well-honed quips and turns-of-phrase as he insisted that, yes, the Palestinians would forge ahead with their plan to seek statehood recognition at the United Nations in September, despite opposition from the United States and Israel.
As Mr Erekat forges ahead in his inimitable style, barely missing a beat from the controversy that threatened to engulf him, in his wake is only a mist of confusion.
I met him a few days ago, said Hani Masri, a Palestinian political analyst, who said Mr Erekat explained to him the same story about the resignation. What's the difference? I don't know.