American Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley faced criticism earlier this month from a top Palestinian official after a recent U.N. security council meeting in which she directly called out Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on his lack of “courage and the will to seek peace” in the Middle East.
Haley charged that Abbas “rejected any American role in peace talks” and “insulted the American president.” Abbas has said that Palestine would not accept the United States as mediator in their conflict with Israel.
In response, Saeb Erekat, Palestinian Liberation Organization’s secretary general and member of parliament for the Palestinian government, called Haley “impudent” and said she should “shut up.”
The exchange was a product of the United States’ recent decision to move their Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and President Donald Trump declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Erekat suggested that the U.S.’s actions amount to attempts at staging a “coup” against the “Palestinian political system,” according to The Times of Israel.
“Nikki Haley needs to shut up and realize that the Palestinian leadership is not the problem,” Erekat said. “Instead, the problem is the Israeli occupation and the policies it continues to pursue. I’m not saying that the we don’t make mistakes; every society and every government makes mistakes.”
“U.S. and Israeli officials are saying that any Palestinian leader who insists on East Jerusalem becoming the capital of Palestine and is committed to the right of return, in accordance with United Nations resolution 194, should be removed from power and replaced,” he added.
During Haley’s speech to the U.N. on Jan. 25, she encouraged leaders to acknowledge the U.S.’s efforts in promoting peace in the Middle East while simultaneously denouncing the recent actions of Abbas, who has shown that peace may not be his top priority.
“President Abbas declared the landmark Oslo Peace Accords dead. He rejected any American role in peace talks. He insulted the American President. He called for suspending recognition of Israel. He invoked an ugly and fictional past, reaching back to the 17th century to paint Israel as a colonialist project engineered by European powers,” Haley said in her speech.
“A speech that indulges in outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories is not the speech of a person with the courage and the will to seek peace,” she added.
Coming to Abbas’ defense, Erekat reiterated that Palestinians are not seeking a battle with the U.S.
“We don’t seek a confrontation or a fight with the U.S. administration,” Erekat said. “On the contrary – they are the ones taking several steps.”
Erekat’s comments come just weeks after Palestinians set their sights on challenging Trump’s U.S. embassy move in the International Court of Justice.