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June 29, 2017 3:49 pm

Hamas and PFLP Are ‘Not Terrorist Organizations,’ Top Palestinian Official Claims at UN Anti-Israel Forum

avatar by Ben Cohen

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PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A senior PLO official and former negotiator with Israel went before a UN forum on Thursday to emphatically deny that Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) were terror groups.

“Hamas and the PFLP are not terrorist organizations,” Saeb Erekat — the PLO’s secretary-general and a principal negotiator of the 1993 Oslo Accords with Israel — declared.

“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,” Erekat went on to say in a speech given on the opening day of a two-day UN conference “to mark 50 years of occupation.”

Indicating that Palestinian enthusiasm for US President Donald Trump’s bid to revive direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) was quickly diminishing, Erekat — who spoke to the forum as a representative of the “State of Palestine” — asserted, “We do not have a partner in Israel today. ”

“The Israeli government, headed by Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, is trying to replace the two-state solution with ‘one state, two systems’ apartheid,” Erekat said, invoking one of the most persistent themes of anti-Israel propaganda: that the Jewish state legally discriminates against Palestinians in the same manner as the former white supremacist regime in South Africa.

Other speakers at the first day of the conference — titled “Ending the Occupation: The Path to Independence, Justice and Peace for Palestine” — included Nabil Elaraby, a former secretary-general of the Arab League, Aida Touma-Sliman, a member of the Knesset from the anti-Zionist “Joint List,”  and Nasser al-Kidwa, a former PLO foreign minister.

Speakers and delegates at the forum will attend a reception on Thursday night hosted by Senegal’s UN Ambassador, Fode Seck, who also serves as chairman of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP). The committee is also hosting the forum’s second day tomorrow, which features several speakers who deny that Israel — a UN member state — has the right to sovereign independence.

Earlier this week, Israeli diplomats at the UN made clear their objection to the forum, charging that it was one more platform for the delegitimization of the Jewish state in the UN system. That view was further cemented by Erekat’s speech.

“These are lies and incitement from those who are paying terrorists to kill innocent Israelis,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said in a statement on Thursday. “These obsessive attempts to besmirch our good name will not change the fact that the Palestinian leadership refuses to end their support for terror.”

Danon also drew attention to Hadas Malka, the 23-year-old Israeli border policewoman stabbed to death earlier this month in Jerusalem in a terrorist attack claimed by the PFLP.

One of the Palestinian NGOs addressing Friday’s session of the forum, Al Haq, is reported to have close links with the PFLP.

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