Saeb Erekat, Munib al-Masri Quit Haaretz's Israel Conference on Peace

Prominent Palestinian figures say decision made following increase in tension of recent days.

Jack Khoury
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Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator.Credit: AP
Jack Khoury

Saeb Erekat, the head of the Palestinian negotiation team in peace talks with Israel, announced over the weekend that he will not be attending Haaretz's Israel Conference on Peace, which will take place on Tuesday in Tel Aviv.

Erekat explained that his decision was made out of respect to the feelings of the Palestinian people and his pain over the developments of the last few days. Erekat also called on the international community to take immediate action in order to protect the Palestinian people, particularly in Jerusalem.

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In addition to Erekat, who was to be one of the prominent guests at the conference, businessman Munib al-Masri also announced that he would not be attending, citing similar reasons.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as many Palestinian circles and social networks, have sharply criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian Authority figures for their participation in the conference. Abbas gave an interview to Haaretz and delivered a personal message in an opinion article to be published by Haaretz on the day of the conference.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zohri issued a statement on Saturday, labeling Abbas’ participation as hurtful to Palestinian feelings, particularly after the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem. Participation by Abbas, he said, will provide the "occupation authorities" with an opportunity to improve its international image.

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