The Lies of Saeb Erekat


This is a guest post by Bataween of Point of No Return

Saeb Erekat, where have you been? We have missed your jovial, suntanned, American-accented appearances on TV. Was your finest hour not during the second intifada, when you claimed that 500 Palestinians had been massacred in the Israeli assault on Jenin in 2002? It was then you cemented your reputation for being ‘economical with the truth’.

So welcome back, Saeb. I see your latest article for CiF, on Dec. 10th, marks the 62nd anniversary of the passing of UN Resolution 194, which you misinterpret as promoting the ‘right’ of return of the Palestinian Arabs displaced during Israel’s war of independence. There is no such right.  True to form, you are back with a whole new set of half-truths and omissions.

UN General Assembly resolution 194 calls for Palestinians to return to their homes. This General Assembly resolution was non-binding, unlike  Security Council resolutions such as UN resolution 242. In fact all 15 paragraphs were a blueprint for a truce. Only article 11 of Resolution 194 deals with refugees, and does not specify ’Palestinian’ refugees. The resolution was equally designed to apply to the Jews expelled from their homes in Jerusalem, Gush  Etzion and  other regions overrun by the Jordanian Arab Legion in the course of the war. It could also have applied to the thousands of Jews already fleeing pogroms in Arab countries. More about these later.

Erekat omits one other crucial piece of wording: Those refugees wishing to return to their homes must agree to ‘live in peace with their neighbors’: one surmises that even the drafters of UN resolution 194 would balk at the re-admission of a hostile irredentist population. Article 11 also states that those who do not wish to return would receive compensation from governments and authorities. The plural wording includes Arab governments.

Sixty two years will have passed without this historic resolution being implemented despite being upheld by the UN with nearly universal consensus.


It would surely embarrass our friend Erekat to admit that the resolution fell short of universal consensus because Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraqi, Saudi Arabia and Yemen themselves voted against UN resolution 194. Those Jews driven out of the prospective Palestinian Arab state and from Jerusalem were also deemed  refugees, worthy of compensation. The Arabs did not relish their burden of responsibility for them. The Arab states also feared that voting in favour of the UN resolution would confer recognition on Israel as a Jewish state. Not a lot seems to have changed in sixty-two years. Last week on November 27, the Fatah Revolutionary Council (remember, they are the moderate Palestinians) concluded its fifth convention with a declaration refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Palestinian displacement continues to this day. It is not politic for Erekat to mention that Israel did make a substantial repatriation offer during  the 1948 negotiations. The government said it would accept 100,000 refugees  in a general settlement.  This offer the Arab states rejected.

Israel bears responsibility for the creation of the Arab refugees. A moot point, at best. The Arabs rejected the plan to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state  – UN Resolution 181 of 29 November 1947. The Arab refugees were a by-product of the Arab decision to go to war: five Arab armies invaded the newborn state of Israel as soon as it was declared. The Naqba is the catastrophic failure to win that war.  The Zionists did not require the expulsion of the Arabs, as the Jewish state allocated by the Partition Plan would already have had a slight Jewish majority. The war saw only a few proven cases of expulsion, notably in Lydda.  Most of the land which was to become  Israel was state or miri land. The Palestinians did not own ‘90 percent ‘ of the land.

Today Palestinian refugees number more than 7 million people. It is a curious phenomenon that a baby born in a ‘Palestinian refugee camp’ (actually a permanent township) in Lebanon is entitled to call himself a refugee without ever having been to Palestine. Unique among refugees, four generations of Palestinians have been living off international  largess as clients of the UN agency dedicated exclusively to their needs, UNWRA.

After a succession of little lies, Erekat’s biggest lie is by omission:  More Jews were driven out of Arab countries than the original 700,000 Palestinians who left Israel. They lost fifty percent more in assets.

By December 1947, a year before the passing of resolution 194,  crowds in Bahrain began looting Jewish homes and shops and destroyed the synagogue. Two were killed. In Aleppo, Syria, the Jewish community was devastated by rioting: at least 150 homes, 50 shops, all 18 synagogues, five schools, an orphanage and a youth club were destroyed. Many Jews were killed, although the exact figure is not known.   Over half the city’s 10,000 Jews fled. In riots in Aden,  82 Jews were killed and hundreds of Jewish-owned shops destroyed. In Libya, 4,000 Jews had been made homeless by rioting two years earlier in which 130 Jews were murdered. In the summer of 1948, hundreds of Jewish civilians were murdered in Egypt and 48 in Morocco.

Before a single Palestinian had been made a refugee the same Arab states which embarked on war against Israel had declared a war against their own innocent Jewish citizens living hundreds of miles away from the battlefield. Even The Guardian (yes, you read that right), in an editorial in December 1947 entitled ‘Hostages’, deplored inflammatory statements made by Arab leaders and threats against their Jewish minorities.

Without playing down the suffering of Palestinian refugees, it is important to note that they were, unlike Jews in Arab lands, victims of war, not ethnic cleansing. The proof is that 160,000 Arabs remained in Israel, and over a million live there today, while 0.5 percent of the 1948 Jewish population remain in Arab countries.  The Palestine Post of  22 December 1947 carried a report about harsh measures that the Arab League was planning against Jews in Arab lands. These Nuremberg-style measures, aspects of which were adopted by individual states, would first denaturalise the Jews, confiscate their property, freeze their bank accounts and treat them as enemy aliens. “ It is significant and tragic that such a document should have been drafted,” the editorial lamented. “It is easy for them to play the bully  and to keep a sword hanging over the heads of many hundreds of thousands  of Jews who are at their mercy.”

As soon as they could, three-quarters of the million Jews living in Arab countries sought refuge in Israel, which absorbed them at great cost.  A number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries roughly equal to the Palestinian refugees (two-thirds of whom were internally displaced within historic Palestine) exchanged places. Such exchanges of populations occurred after the wars between Greece and Turkey and India and Pakistan.

To achieve a lasting peace settlement based on justice, one cannot acknowledge a one-sided ‘right of return’ for Arab refugees to Israel if a similar right is not granted to Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

There’s the rub. The Jews, now fully fledged citizens living in freedom in Israel and the West, do not want to return to the countries which persecuted and ethnically cleansed them.  They want only compensation for lost property and human rights abuses. Whatever Erekat may say, there is no precedent for a return of refugees of any sort after sixty-two years.   Far better to admit the de-facto exchange of refugee populations; far more humanitarian for the Palestinian refugees in the Arab world to be granted compensation for their losses and the civil rights their host Arab countries currently deny them.

Saeb Erekat’s argument, echoed by Mahmoud Abbas, makes it plain as day that in spite of western and Obaman efforts to blame settlements or the absence of a Palestinian state for the absence of peace, the Palestinians will not end the conflict unless Israel consents to become a 23rd Arab-Muslim state by opening the floodgates to seven million so-called refugees. Sixty-two years on, the Arabs still view the ideological crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict as the ‘right of return’ of the Arab refugees.  On this matter at least, we should commend Saeb Erekat  and the Palestinian leadership for their candour.

23 comments on “The Lies of Saeb Erekat

  1. Erekat’s CIF piece starts with Count Folke Bernadotte. BTW, he called him Lord Bernadotte. The man was Swedish not British. CIF’s sub editors fumbled the ball right there.

    That said, Erekat seemingly weaved Bernadotte into his narrative, inter alia, to accuse Jews once again of not wanting peace from the get-go.

  2. The question is: what is the significance of the timing of Erekat’s article? Have the Palestinians somehow become emboldened by the current peace talks impasse to emphasize the ROT?

  3. I think the 62nd anniversary of res 194 was the pretext for Erekat’s timing. The Palestinians make regular announcements on their ‘inalienable’ right to the ROT, and the recent breakdown in talks does not seem to have changed their attitude one bit.

  4. ===”The Jews, now fully fledged citizens living in freedom in Israel and the West, do not want to return to the countries which persecuted and ethnically cleansed them. They want only compensation for lost property and human rights abuses. Whatever Erekat may say, there is no precedent for a return of refugees of any sort after sixty-two years.”===

    But we talk of rights here, not wishes, or duties. The right to return is alienable to all refugees unless they give it up.

    If the Arab Jews have given up theirs, as you say, then so be it. Their fate at the hands of British regimes in the mashriq cannot raised as a red herring to keep away the real issue of Palestine Arab refugees.

    The Palestinians have not given up their rights. Nor will they.

    In your heart you know this is why Zionism has never been able to win total. Zionism thought the Palestine Arabs were just Indians of the American type who could be dispersed to the winds and then forgotten or penned in.

    It has not proven so.

    They are already once again continuous Arab majority in North, East and South West of Western Palestine. And that is even without refugee going home!

    Shertok said nearly sixty years ago on the very floor of the knesset

    “We should not exaggerate the value of hasbara, and we should not hang our hopes on hasbara alone. Not everything can be done or justified by hasbara. There are facts that penetrate deeply, which make an impression that no hasbara can conceal. It works both ways. I have had the opportunity to compare the situation, in which the special line that characterized the position of the Jewish people was that they had
    camps for displaced people, survivors of disaster, who were unable to get to a restin gplace, and that fact cried out and gaves the human conscience no rest – with the situation in which the State of Israel finds itself. All the camps of Jewish displaced people have been removed, but camps have been set up for Arab refugees, and no
    hasbara in the world – and indeed there is hasbara, and that is one of the central subjects of thousands of speeches and scores of volumes – can change the final fact that these camps exist.”

    Yes, there are some “facts that penetrate [so] deeply that no hasbara can conceal.”

    Learn these words.

  5. Daniel
    Refugees have never had an inalienable right of return. It is not enshrined in international law. It’s a Palestinian invention – in this case a ruse to arabise Israel. It shows how little you care about Palestinian rights, that you are willing to uproot them and uproot others in the name of ‘justice’.

    Don’t go blaming British regimes for the persecution of Iraqi Syrian and Egyptian Jews, the responsibility is entirely that of independent Arab states. The sooner they recognise it the better the chances for peace, but somehow I get the feeling you’re not really interested in peace.

  6. Thank you for this excellent article Bataween.

    I take on board that there is no legal right of return, but if there were it seems to me that it should apply only to those displaced and not to future generations of Palestinians. Also (given that with rights come responsibilities) any such “right” should be conditional upon the responsibility of those returning Palestinians to become citizens of Israel and keep her laws.

    Hell would freeze over first, I think, before that happened, not least because the Muslim belief system cannot make room in it for a Jewish state in dar ul-Islam, much less have them choose to be citizens of it.

    Daniel, although your arguments are very simplistic, you are not really as thick as you seem are you? You know as well as I (but choose not to articulate because to do so would spoil the thrust of your very tendentious argument) that the camps you refer to exist because it is expedient for Muslim leaders to point to the people who live in them and blame the Jews rather than their own policies for Palestinians’ continued oppression. Why not post here your ideas of what might have happened if, instead of attacking Israel in 1947, the Arab nations had chosen to accept partition instead? Theirs was the choice. They chose to fight and they are reaping what they sowed. Israel cannot be blamed for that, but you and your one-eyed fellow travellers are guilty of colluding with and promoting the notion that Palestinian victimhood happened to them out of the blue.

    You also know as well as I, because you are not as thick as you choose to present yourself, that the useful and expedient nature of the camps lies in the fact that Arab/Muslim leaders can point to them (and bear in mind none of these leaders, including Hamas, make any effort at all to better the conditions in them) and use their blighted existence to whip up hatred against Israel and deflect discontent from their own policy failings.

    In other words they still remain because Arab/Muslim governments prefer things that way and prefer to be at war, and not because Israel prefers them to remain.

    Israel, after all, does not divide the world into dar ul-harb (house of war) or dar ul-Yahud (house of the Jews) in the same mad way in which Islam dins into its adherents that whoever is not with them is automatically against them.

  7. ====”Refugees have never had an inalienable right of return. It is not enshrined in international law”

    What makes you think I care international law? This is just means by which big powers rob others “legally”.

    ===”Don’t go blaming British regimes for the persecution of Iraqi Syrian and Egyptian Jews, the responsibility is entirely that of independent Arab states.”===

    You are an Iraqi Jew yes? You well know that the Iraqi Jews were driven out under royal-Said puppet regime. You will also know that it was the Glubb Pasha Legion forced Jews out of al quds. That they give planes and push the Yemenite Jews onto them.

    This goes on and on and on.

    As for Musta’arabi or the Algerians they may have turned backs to the arab nation, that is shame but its their right to do so, but they have not turned their face toward Zionism too.

    And you write as is this was not all wished and worked for by Zionist. It was. You know this. They never fight the right wings in their antisemit. They encourage. Cheer from sides. Throw a few bombs at you in Iraq. Plant some in Egypt in to cause pogroms against Jews by right wing and British swords against Nasser. Yes, Zionist are guilty with right wingers and British.Very much so.

    And now you cry crocodile tears because the Arab Jews have suffered the fate you wished and worked for for them! Shame.

  8. ====”Why not post here your ideas of what might have happened if, instead of attacking Israel in 1947, the Arab nations had chosen to accept partition instead?”====

    People says okay to giving most of the country away because UN turns up and says so? Vote is democracy yes? No vote, no legitimacy. Palestine rejects this UN coup. Right. And to this day!

    ====”You also know as well as I, because you are not as thick as you choose to present yourself, that the useful and expedient nature of the camps lies in the fact that Arab/Muslim leaders can point to them (and bear in mind none of these leaders, including Hamas, make any effort at all to better the conditions in them) and use their blighted existence to whip up hatred against Israel and deflect discontent from their own policy failings.”====

    Take away this weapon! Please! Take back the refugees leave these you say Arab/Muslim leaders with nothing and let the people fall on them like tigers.

    Ah…. Not so keen? WHo gives “ARab/Muslim leaders” this weapon by keep Palestine arabs from returning home?

    The day when Israel agress to take back and you see Arab guard stopping Palestine Arabs from return to Palestine then I will believe you that the refugees are just tool for Jews hating.

    Until then it is Zionism alone blamed.

  9. ====”a ruse to arabise [Palestine]“====

    You are thousand years late Bataween, you have not turned yourself way to the arabs so much that you have forgotten the history of your nation?

    As I said: there is Arab majority in North, South west and East of Western Palestine.

    Arabise the already arab country! Arabise the country arab for the last thousand years! And the next!

    I laugh at this loud!!

  10. Saeb Erakat and Hannan Asrawi,two spinmasters and liars of the highest order.

    On that thread for some unknown reason they added Abbas’s photograph,this Abbas never smiles,he is always scowling.His face would crack if he ever smiled.

  11. From the thread – I commented:

    By the way, when someone references UN resolutions, its always good to take a look at them. For example, Erekat references UNGA res 194, which says:

    8. Resolves that, in view of its association with three world religions, the Jerusalem area, including the present municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages and towns, the most eastern of which shall be Abu Dis; the most southern, Bethlehem; the most western, Ein Karim (including also the built-up area of Motsa); and the most northern, Shu’fat, should be accorded special and separate treatment from the rest of Palestine and should be placed under effective United Nations control;

    Now, while it is true that Israel regards this as null and void after the Jordanian occupation of said areas from 1948 – 1967, in line with Erekat’s views that Israel should fully implement UNGA Res 194, I wonder if part of his negotiating position is to hand over Abu Dis, Bethlehem, Shu’fat to “effective United Nations control”?

    Or does he only like the bit about return of refugees?

    11. Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;

    Would he demand that they “live in peace” with their neighbors as the resolution requires, given that for 62 years they have shown no inclination to do so? Since the 1948 War of Independence was forced on Israel by the invasion of Arab armies from outside Israel, surely those countries – Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the other Arab League members are the ” Governments or authorities responsible”. Has Erekat received any indication that they will pay the remaining refugees – surely a very small number by now – for the “loss of or damage to property”?

    I have a feeling that he would claim that claim that GA resolutions make nice wallpaper, but those bits are not actually binding on anyone.

  12. Daniel,

    “…You will also know that it was the Glubb Pasha Legion forced Jews out of al quds.”

    I bet the British bend the Mufti’s hand to go sit with Hitler, and divise a way to make sure the Jews vanish.

  13. You diss the host repeatedly, so I can’t greet you with ma’archaba.

    The stats you give are phony. Nowhere in Israel are the Arabs in majority if taken on wider district levels. Also, you still cling to that debunked, Muslim supremacist mentality that only your kith and kin are true owners of the land.

    The land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people first and foremost.

    A piece of advice and take it at its face value, you cannot truly liberate yourself by enslaving others. The Jews do not wish to live as a minority any longer. They tried it long enough; it didn’t work out though.

  14. Pingback: Saeb Erekats lögner « Sapere Aude!

  15. Pingback: Endlich « Letters from Rungholt

  16. ====”A piece of advice and take it at its face value, you cannot truly liberate yourself by enslaving others.”====

    Right! Zionism in one sentence! The cost to free yourself was to tie yourself to imperialism with Balfour and go against the Arabs.

    ====”The stats you give are phony. Nowhere in Israel are the Arabs in majority if taken on wider district levels.”

    I wrote there is Arab majority in North, South west and East of Western Palestine. There is. Absolutely.

    How can you say not? There is Israeli majority in the coast West districts, yes, Jaffa, definitely so even after return of Jaffa Arabs.

    Big minorities also in district of Haifa, al-Ramla and Tulkarm districts and south of maybe Beersheba district as well.

    There is definite Arab majority in all the North districts (Acre, Safad, Tiberius, Nazareth) all the East districts (Baysan, Jinin, Nablus, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Hebron) and south west (Gaza).

    So definitely Arab majority in 11 of 16 Palestine district; Israeli majority in 1 district and big minorities in 4 others.

    Yes I am right. See?

    ****”The report, by Hebrew University demographer Sergio DellaPergola, found that Jews, as defined according to the Interior Ministry’s criteria, now represent slightly less than 50 percent of the total population of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. “If people ask when Jews will lose their majority,” DellaPergola was quoted as saying, referring to the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan, “then it’s already happened.” (Haaretz)****

    And that is across whole of Palestine. In district to district even more so as I have said.

    ===”The Jews do not wish to live as a minority any longer. They tried it long enough; it didn’t work out though.”===

    The Jews are a minority everywhere. In American Britain France and Palestine! You have to find a way to live in minority. I say as free equal people in Palestine.

  17. Also you say:

    ====”Also, you still cling to that debunked, Muslim supremacist mentality that only your kith and kin are true owners of the land.”===

    I am not Muslim.

    But you put this Next to:

    ===”The land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people first and foremost.”====

    You cling I think to that debunked, Jewish supremacist mentality that only your kith and kin and true owners of the land!!!!

  18. “Right! Zionism in one sentence! The cost to free yourself was to tie yourself to imperialism with Balfour and go against the Arabs”

    You’re reading it backwards.

    Above all, the Jews always wanted to live as free people in their own state. In contrast, Arabs/ Muslims always intended to politically dominate them.

    One way or another, the Arab-Israeli conflict, in its essence, has always been all about Muslim-inspired apartheid in the region.

  19. “I am not Muslim.

    You cling I think to that debunked, Jewish supremacist mentality that only your kith and kin and true owners of the land!!!!

    Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Write your own comedy routine from now on.

    For what it’s worth, I couldn’t care less about your racial/ethnic/religious background.

    The Arabs own 22 states. The Jews have only Israel to call their own. In aggregate, Arab countries are 640 times larger than Israel. Also, the Arabs outnumber Israeli Jews 50 to 1.

  20. Daniel,

    If the right of return is inalienable, you will have no problem pointing to a body of law that makes this clear. The fact is, no such law exists that is binding on the state of Israel.

Comments are closed.