‘Do we have to hijack your planes again?’ Fatah official asks

Former negotiator Nabil Shaath slams Western indifference to Mideast suffering, says US ‘has never been an honest broker’ in peace talks

Former Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath in a 2016 interview with the Palestinian Authority's Awdha TV. (Screen capture/YouTube/MEMRI)
Former Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath in a 2016 interview with the Palestinian Authority's Awdha TV. (Screen capture/YouTube/MEMRI)

Former Palestinian peace negotiator Nabil Shaath said in an interview that he often asks Westerners whether Arabs have to “hijack your planes and destroy your airports again” to make the world take notice of the Palestinian cause.

In a February 1 interview with the Palestinian Authority’s Awdha TV, translated on Sunday by MEMRI, Shaath slammed American efforts at Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

Asked about a French proposal for an international peace conference, Shaath replied, “Well, anything is better than American control of the negotiations. Anything. The US has never been a reliable honest broker. Never. It is the strategic ally of Israel. Period. Therefore any discussion of a different formula is a positive thing.”

But, he added, “an international conference is not what is needed. What is needed is a smaller framework. Today, at the African Union summit, President [Mahmoud] Abbas reiterated that we want something similar to the 5+1 framework” of six world powers who negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran.

“Like it or not, the US will be part of it. But we want France, Germany, Britain, the EU, Russia, China, Brazil, India. From the Arab countries we want Egypt at least. We want a small international framework.”

Shaath then turned to what he described as Western apathy toward suffering in the Middle East.

“If the Syrian problem had not been exported to Europe through the refugees on the one hand and terrorism on the other, the Europeans would not have cared even if the entire Syrian people had died,” he charged.

“But when all of a sudden there were four million Syrian refugees in Europe, 1.2 million of them in Germany alone, and when this was accompanied by Islamic State operations in France and elsewhere, all these countries began to fear that IS might have infiltrated through the refugees. And this started a debate about racial transformation in Europe with the entrance of non-white, non-European, non-Anglo-Saxon races, like the Syrian refugees, the Africans and others. This is what made the Syrian problem the most pressing from their perspective.”

He added: “I always say to these people, after I tell them about Syria and IS: ‘Do we have to hijack your planes and destroy your airports again to make you care about our cause? Are you waiting for us to cut off your oil supply? You always wait for things to reach boiling point and explode, causing you harm, before you intervene to end the crimes and violations.'”

Shaath served as the PA’s first foreign minister, and has served as a top peace negotiator and an influential member of the Fatah Central Committee.

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